Lessons learned from a pilot implementation-of the UMLS information sources map

Perry L. Miller, Sandra J. Frawlky, Lawhknce Wright, Nancy K. Roderer, Seth M. Powsner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: To explore the software design issues involved in implementing an operational information sources map (ISM) knowledge base (KB) and system of navigational tools that can help medical users access network-based information sources relevant to a biomedical question. Design: A pilot biomedical ISM KB and associated client-server software (ISM/Explorer) have been developed to help students, clinicians, researchers, and staff access network-based information sources, as part of the National Library of Medicine's (NLM) multi-institutional Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) project. The system allows the user to specify and constrain a search for a biomedical question of interest. The system then returns a list of sources matching the search. At this point the user may request 1) further information about a source, 2) that the list of sources be regrouped by different criteria to allow the user to get a better overall appreciation of the set of retrieved sources as a whole, or 3) automatic connection to a source. Results: The pilot system operates in client-server mode and currently contains coded information for 121 sources. It is in routine use from approximately 40 workstations at the Yale School of Medicine. The lessons that have been learned are that: 1) it is important to make access to different versions of a source as seamless as possible, 2) achieving seamless, cross-platform access to heterogeneous sources is difficult, 3) significant differences exist between coding the subject content of an electronic information resource versus that of an article or a book, 4) customizing the ISM to multiple institutions entails significant complexities, and 5) there are many design trade-offs between specifying searches and viewing sets of retrieved sources that must be taken into consideration. Conclusion: An ISM KB and navigational tools have been constructed. In the process, much has been learned about the complexities of development and evaluation in this new environment, which are different from those for Gopher, wide area information servers (WAIS), World-Wide-Web (WWW), and MOSAIC resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-115
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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