Trends and opportunities in computable clinical phenotyping: A scoping review

Ting He, Anas Belouali, Jessica Patricoski, Harold Lehmann, Robert Ball, Valsamo Anagnostou, Kory Kreimeyer, Taxiarchis Botsis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Identifying patient cohorts meeting the criteria of specific phenotypes is essential in biomedicine and particularly timely in precision medicine. Many research groups deliver pipelines that automatically retrieve and analyze data elements from one or more sources to automate this task and deliver high-performing computable phenotypes. We applied a systematic approach based on the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines to conduct a thorough scoping review on computable clinical phenotyping. Five databases were searched using a query that combined the concepts of automation, clinical context, and phenotyping. Subsequently, four reviewers screened 7960 records (after removing over 4000 duplicates) and selected 139 that satisfied the inclusion criteria. This dataset was analyzed to extract information on target use cases, data-related topics, phenotyping methodologies, evaluation strategies, and portability of developed solutions. Most studies supported patient cohort selection without discussing the application to specific use cases, such as precision medicine. Electronic Health Records were the primary source in 87.1 % (N = 121) of all studies, and International Classification of Diseases codes were heavily used in 55.4 % (N = 77) of all studies, however, only 25.9 % (N = 36) of the records described compliance with a common data model. In terms of the presented methods, traditional Machine Learning (ML) was the dominant method, often combined with natural language processing and other approaches, while external validation and portability of computable phenotypes were pursued in many cases. These findings revealed that defining target use cases precisely, moving away from sole ML strategies, and evaluating the proposed solutions in the real setting are essential opportunities for future work. There is also momentum and an emerging need for computable phenotyping to support clinical and epidemiological research and precision medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104335
JournalJournal of Biomedical Informatics
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Cohort selection
  • Computable phenotype
  • Precision medicine
  • Precision oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications


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