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Objective:To establish a basis for a domain ontology - a formal, explicit specificationof a shared conceptualization - of collaborative learning healthcare systems (CLHSs)in order to facilitate measurement, explanation, and improvement.Methods:We adapted the“Methontology”approach to begin building an ontologyof CLHSs. We specified the purpose of an ontology, acquired domain knowledge vialiterature review, conceptualized a common framework of CLHSs using a groundedapproach, refined these concepts based on expert panel input, and illustrated con-cept application via four cases.Results:The set of concepts identified as important to include in an ontologyincludes goals, values, structure, actors, environment, and products. To establish thisset of concepts, we gathered input from content experts in two ways. First, expertpanel methods were used to elicit feedback on these concepts and to test the elicita-tion of terms for the vocabulary of the Values concept. Second, from these discus-sions we developed a mapping exercise to test the intuitiveness of the concepts,requesting that network leaders from four CLHSs complete a mapping exercise toassociate characteristics of their networks with the high-level concepts, building thevocabulary for each concept in a grounded fashion. We also solicited feedback fromthese participants on the experience of completing the mapping exercise, finding thatthe exercise is acceptable and could aid in CLHS development and collaboration.Respondents identified opportunities to improve the operational definitions of eachconcept to ensure that corresponding vocabularies are distinct and non-overlapping.Discussion:Our results provide a foundation for developing a formal, explicit sharedconceptualization of CLHSs. Once developed, such a tool can be useful for measure-ment, explanation, and improvement. Further work, including alignment to a top-levelontology, expanding the vocabulary, and defining relations between vocabulary isrequired to formally build out an ontology for these uses.


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