Live sequence charts to model medical information

Eric Aslakson, Smadar Szekely, Suzanne D. Vernon, Lucinda Bateman, Jan Baumbach, Yaki Setty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Medical records accumulate data concerning patient health and the natural history of disease progression. However, methods to mine information systematically in a form other than an electronic health record are not yet available. The purpose of this study was to develop an object modeling technique as a first step towards a formal database of medical records. Method. Live Sequence Charts (LSC) were used to formalize the narrative text obtained during a patient interview. LSCs utilize a visual scenario-based programming language to build object models. LSC extends the classical language of UML message sequence charts (MSC), predominantly through addition of modalities and providing executable semantics. Inter-object scenarios were defined to specify natural history event interactions and different scenarios in the narrative text. Result: A simulated medical record was specified into LSC formalism by translating the text into an object model that comprised a set of entities and events. The entities described the participating components (i.e., doctor, patient and record) and the events described the interactions between elements. A conceptual model is presented to illustrate the approach. An object model was generated from data extracted from an actual new patient interview, where the individual was eventually diagnosed as suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). This yielded a preliminary formal designated vocabulary for CFS development that provided a basis for future formalism of these records. Conclusions: Translation of medical records into object models created the basis for a formal database of the patient narrative that temporally depicts the events preceding disease, the diagnosis and treatment approach. The LSCs object model of the medical narrative provided an intuitive, visual representation of the natural history of the patient's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
JournalTheoretical Biology and Medical Modelling
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Computational health informatics
  • Live sequence charts
  • Medical modeling


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