Computable phenotypes have the ability to utilize data within the electronic health record (EHR) to identify patients with certain characteristics. Many computable phenotypes rely on multiple types of data within the EHR including prescription drug information. Hypertension (HTN)-related computable phenotypes are particularly dependent on the correct classification of antihypertensive prescription drug information, as well as corresponding diagnoses and blood pressure information.
This study aimed to create an antihypertensive drug classification system to be utilized with EHR-based data as part of HTN-related computable phenotypes.
We compared 4 different antihypertensive drug classification systems based off of 4 different methodologies and terminologies, including 3 RxNorm Concept Unique Identifier (RxCUI)-based classifications and 1 medication name-based classification. The RxCUI-based classifications utilized data from (1) the Drug Ontology, (2) the new Medication Reference Terminology, and (3) the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System and DrugBank, whereas the medication name-based classification relied on antihypertensive drug names. Each classification system was applied to EHR-based prescription drug data from hypertensive patients in the OneFlorida Data Trust.
There were 13,627 unique RxCUIs and 8025 unique medication names from the 13,879,046 prescriptions. We observed a broad overlap between the 4 methods, with 84.1% (691/822) to 95.3% (695/729) of terms overlapping pairwise between the different classification methods. Key differences arose from drug products with multiple dosage forms, drug products with an indication of benign prostatic hyperplasia, drug products that contain more than 1 ingredient (combination products), and terms within the classification systems corresponding to retired or obsolete RxCUIs.
In total, 2 antihypertensive drug classifications were constructed, one based on RxCUIs and one based on medication name, that can be used in future computable phenotypes that require antihypertensive drug classifications.

©Caitrin W McDonough, Steven M Smith, Rhonda M Cooper-DeHoff, William R Hogan. Originally published in JMIR Medical Informatics (, 27.02.2020.