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Natural Language Processing and Your Health

By   /  April 18, 2014  /  No Comments

stethoscopeby Angela Guess

Jennifer Webster of MD News reports, “In 2011 and 2012, healthcare information technology publications brimmed with excitement over IBM’s Watson, which was promised to use NLP combined with predictive analytics to make care recommendations for patients by comparing them against large data sets. NLP gave Watson access to a far wider and more nuanced range of information — in the form of clinicians’ freeform notes — than would be available through the discrete text fields of electronic health records (EHRs). At present, IBM and MD Anderson Cancer Center are collaborating on the problem of childhood leukemia, using Watson’s capabilities for digesting large amounts of data and generating hypotheses for valuable assistance. What other roles is NLP playing today?”

She continues, “In the realm of data governance, NLP makes up part of the data enrichment process, which takes place after aggregating and before storing data. By translating free narrative into diagnostic or procedural codes, NLP streamlines important routine tasks, such as ensuring patient encounters are fully billed. Data enrichment also makes possible predictive modeling and other forms of analytics in the service of organizational objectives. An NLP vendor may offer services ranging from transcription to a variety of business analytics packages. At its most basic, NLP may take physician narrative — whether dictation or typed notes — and map it into an EHR. Traditional dictation software vendors, such as StenTel and M*Modal, offer a spectrum of language transformation services, from automated transcription to machine language transformation and deep-delving analysis.”

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