Querying EHRs with a Semantic and Entity-Oriented Query Language

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2017;235:121-125.


While the digitization of medical documents has greatly expanded during the past decade, health information retrieval has become a great challenge to address many issues in medical research. Information retrieval in electronic health records (EHR) should also reduce the difficult tasks of manual information retrieval from records in paper format or computer. The aim of this article was to present the features of a semantic search engine implemented in EHRs. A flexible, scalable and entity-oriented query language tool is proposed. The program is designed to retrieve and visualize data which can support any Conceptual Data Model. The search engine deals with structured and unstructured data, for a sole patient from a caregiver perspective, and for a number of patients (e.g. epidemiology). Several types of queries on a test database containing 2,000 anonymized patients EHRs (i.e. approximately 200,000 records) were tested. These queries were able to accurately treat symbolic, textual, numerical and chronological data.

Keywords: Controlled vocabulary; Electronic Health Records; Information Storage and Retrieval; Search Engine.

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual
  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / methods*
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Search Engine / methods*
  • Semantics