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HealthCyberMap: Mapping the Health Cyberspace Using Hypermedia GIS and Clinical Codes

Boulos, M. (2002). HealthCyberMap: Mapping the Health Cyberspace Using Hypermedia GIS and Clinical Codes. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


HealthCyberMap (<http: //healthcybermap.semantic.web org>) is a Semantic Web service for healthcare professionals and librarians, patients and the public m general that aims at mappmg parts of medical/ health information resources in cyberspace in novel ways to improve their retrieval and navigation. The Semantic Web (<> and <>) aims to be the next-generation World Wide Web by giving machine-readable semantics and context to the currently presentation-based Web pages. HealthCyberMap features an unconventional use of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to map conceptual spaces occupied by collections of medical/ health information resources. Besides mapping the semantic and non-geographical aspects of these resources using suitable spatial metaphors, HealthCyberMap also collects and maps the geographical provenance of these resources. Some of HealthCyberMap Web interfaces are visual (maps for browsing resources by clinical/ health topic, by provenance and by type), while others are textual (multilingual interfaces for browsing resources by language, and a directory of topical resource categories, besides HealthCyberMap Semantic Subject Search Engine that goes beyond conventional free-text and keyword-based search engines, and supports synonyms, disease variants, subtypes, as well as some semantic relationships between terms).

HealthCyberMap adopts a clinical metadata framework built upon a clinical coding scheme (vocabulary or ontology—ICD-9-CM* clinical classification in the current pilot service). Clinical coding schemes serve as a reliable common backbone for topical resource indexing, automated topical classification, topical visualisation and navigation of coded resource pools (using suitable metaphors), and enhanced information retrieval and linking. A resource metadata base based on Dublin Core metadata set with HealthCyberMap’s own extensions holds information about selected high-quality resources. HealthCyberMap then uses GIS spatialisation methods to generate interactive navigational cybermaps from the metadata base. These visual cybermaps are based on familiar metaphors for image-word association to give users a broad overview and understanding of what is available in this complex conceptual space of medical/ health Internet resources and help them navigate it more efficiently and effectively.

HealthCyberMap cybermaps can be considered as semantically-spatialised, ontology-based browsing views of the underlying resource metadata base. Using a clinical coding scheme as a metric for spatialisation (“semantic distance”) is unique to HealthCyberMap and is very much suited for the semantic categorisation and navigation of medical/ health Internet information resources. HealthCyberMap also introduces a useful form of cyberspatial analysis for the detection of topical coverage gaps in its resource pool using choropleth (shaded) maps of human body systems. The project features a cost-effective method for serving Web hypermaps with dynamic metadata base drill-down functionality. It also demonstrates the feasibility of Electronic Patient Record to Online Information Services (like HealthCyberMap) Problem to Knowledge Linking using clinical codes as crisp problem-knowledge linkers or knowledge hooks.

The Semantic Subject Search Engine queries the same HealthCyberMap resource metadata base. Explicit concepts in resource metadata map onto a brokering domain ontology (ICD-9-CM) allowing the search engine to infer implicit meanings (synonyms and semantic relationships) not directly mentioned in either the resource or its metadata. Similarly, user queries would map to the same ontology allowing the search engine to infer the implicit semantics of user queries and use them to optimise retrieval.

A formative evaluation study of HealthCyberMap pilot service using an online user evaluation questionnaire, in addition to analysis of HealthCyberMap server transaction log, has been conducted during the period from 18 April 2002 to 1 June 2002 with very encouraging results. This two-method evaluation approach was guided by methodologies described in NIH Web Site Evaluation and Performance Measures Toolkit among other resources.

Many exciting future possibilities have been also investigated by the author, including the further development of HealthCyberMap as a customisable, location-based medical/ health information service.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources > ZA4050 Electronic information resources
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
School of Science & Technology > School of Science & Technology Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Boulos thesis 2002 PDF-A.pdf]
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