Background: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was discovered in China in December 2019. It has developed into a threatening international public health emergency. With the exception of China, the number of cases continues to increase worldwide. A number of studies about disease diagnosis and treatment have been carried out, and many clinically proven effective results have been achieved. Although information technology can improve the transferring of such knowledge to clinical practice rapidly, data interoperability is still a challenge due to the heterogeneous nature of hospital information systems. This issue becomes even more serious if the knowledge for diagnosis and treatment is updated rapidly as is the case for COVID-19. An open, semantic-sharing, and collaborative-information modeling framework is needed to rapidly develop a shared data model for exchanging data among systems. openEHR is such a framework and is supported by many open software packages that help to promote information sharing and interoperability.

Objective: This study aims to develop a shared data model based on the openEHR modeling approach to improve the interoperability among systems for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.

Methods: The latest Guideline of COVID-19 Diagnosis and Treatment in China was selected as the knowledge source for modeling. First, the guideline was analyzed and the data items used for diagnosis and treatment, and management were extracted. Second, the data items were classified and further organized into domain concepts with a mind map. Third, searching was executed in the international openEHR Clinical Knowledge Manager (CKM) to find the existing archetypes that could represent the concepts. New archetypes were developed for those concepts that could not be found. Fourth, these archetypes were further organized into a template using Ocean Template Editor. Fifth, a test case of data exchanging between the clinical data repository and clinical decision support system based on the template was conducted to verify the feasibility of the study.

Results: A total of 203 data items were extracted from the guideline in China, and 16 domain concepts (16 leaf nodes in the mind map) were organized. There were 22 archetypes used to develop the template for all data items extracted from the guideline. All of them could be found in the CKM and reused directly. The archetypes and templates were reviewed and finally released in a public project within the CKM. The test case showed that the template can facilitate the data exchange and meet the requirements of decision support.

Conclusions: This study has developed the openEHR template for COVID-19 based on the latest guideline from China using openEHR modeling methodology. It represented the capability of the methodology for rapidly modeling and sharing knowledge through reusing the existing archetypes, which is especially useful in a new and fast-changing area such as with COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; archetype; clinical guidelines; coronavirus disease; knowledge modeling; openEHR; template.

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