Department of Quantitative Health Sciences
Computer Sciences | Health Information Technology
BACKGROUND: Many health organizations allow patients to access their own electronic health record (EHR) notes through online patient portals as a way to enhance patient-centered care. However, EHR notes are typically long and contain abundant medical jargon that can be difficult for patients to understand. In addition, many medical terms in patients' notes are not directly related to their health care needs. One way to help patients better comprehend their own notes is to reduce information overload and help them focus on medical terms that matter most to them. Interventions can then be developed by giving them targeted education to improve their EHR comprehension and the quality of care.
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to develop a supervised natural language processing (NLP) system called Finding impOrtant medical Concepts most Useful to patientS (FOCUS) that automatically identifies and ranks medical terms in EHR notes based on their importance to the patients.
METHODS: First, we built an expert-annotated corpus. For each EHR note, 2 physicians independently identified medical terms important to the patient. Using the physicians' agreement as the gold standard, we developed and evaluated FOCUS. FOCUS first identifies candidate terms from each EHR note using MetaMap and then ranks the terms using a support vector machine-based learn-to-rank algorithm. We explored rich learning features, including distributed word representation, Unified Medical Language System semantic type, topic features, and features derived from consumer health vocabulary. We compared FOCUS with 2 strong baseline NLP systems.
RESULTS: Physicians annotated 90 EHR notes and identified a mean of 9 (SD 5) important terms per note. The Cohen's kappa annotation agreement was .51. The 10-fold cross-validation results show that FOCUS achieved an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC-ROC) of 0.940 for ranking candidate terms from EHR notes to identify important terms. When including term identification, the performance of FOCUS for identifying important terms from EHR notes was 0.866 AUC-ROC. Both performance scores significantly exceeded the corresponding baseline system scores (P < .001). Rich learning features contributed to FOCUS's performance substantially.
CONCLUSIONS: FOCUS can automatically rank terms from EHR notes based on their importance to patients. It may help develop future interventions that improve quality of care.
electronic health records, information extraction, learning to rank, natural language processing, supervised learning
Rights and Permissions
Copyright © Jinying Chen, Jiaping Zheng, Hong Yu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Medical Informatics, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://medinform.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.
DOI of Published Version
JMIR Med Inform. 2016 Nov 30;4(4):e40. Link to article on publisher's site
JMIR medical informatics
Chen, Jinying; Zheng, Jiaping; and Yu, Hong, "Finding Important Terms for Patients in Their Electronic Health Records: A Learning-to-Rank Approach Using Expert Annotations" (2016). Open Access Articles. 2980.