Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Health and Medical vocabulary for schema.org

We are pleased to announce a major set of additions to schema.org that improve our coverage of health and medical topics. Although there are many existing efforts around structured data for health and medicine, such structure is today typically available only 'behind the scenes' rather than shared in the Web using standard markup. Our design goals therefore differed from many previous initiatives, in that we focused on markup for use by Webmasters and publishers. Our main goal was to create markup that will help patients, physicians, and generally health-interested consumers find relevant health information via search.

This collaborative project drew upon search expertise from the schema.org partners but also gained immeasurably through feedback from expert reviewers including the US NCBI; physicians at Harvard, Duke and other institutions, as well as from several health Web sites. Contributions from the W3C Healthcare and Lifesciences group and Web Schemas community also helped bridge the complex worlds of Web standards, search and medicine/healthcare.

A note on scope: the new health and medical schema additions are intended to cover both consumer- and professionally-targeted health and medical web content, so any given piece of content may use only the relevant subset of the schema. Also, we've focused on creating lightweight markup that easily surfaces key health and medical entities in web pages and captures the relationships between them. As such, we envision these additions as complementary to the many very good and comprehensive medical ontologies, meta-thesauri, and controlled vocabularies that have been created in the medical domain. When such resources are available, our proposed schema can link to and take advantage of them, e.g. via the code property of MedicalEntity. Finally, while today the additions are not aimed at supporting use cases like automated reasoning, medical records coding, or genomic tagging, these could be interesting domains for future extension.

The Web contains a wealth of information on health and medicine and we hope this contribution will make it easier for users (whether patients, consumers, physicians or family members) to make the most of the information that is shared in the Web. For interested parties we have prepared a more detailed overview document. As with all schema.org vocabulary, we will continue to evolve the schema and welcome your feedback, suggestions and implementation experience here, via W3C, or by mail.

-- Aaron Brown, Google
-- C. Michael Gibson, MD, Wikidoc