Wednesday 1st June 2011 – Prof Jackie Cassell

Prof Jackie Cassell – Brighton and Sussex Medical School

The Patient Records Enhancement Project (PREP): making free text available for public health research

The problem: Electronic patient records contain a mixture of coded information and free text. Information is variably recorded by practitioners as coded or free text, but free text is difficult to convert into forms suitable for quantitative analysis. Important information for health services research or epidemiology may be “hidden” to an unknown extent in free text. In the PREP project we aim to develop generalisable methods for the identification and interrogation of potentially important data “concealed” in free text, use the results to enhance coded data, and evaluate the utility of this approach. The study integrates expertise in computational linguistics, user centred social informatics, statistical/epidemiological and visualization, in a multidisciplinary study. Our methods: Natural Language Processing (NLP) be used to search the free text of large quantities of anonymised free text patient records, and to enhance coded data with pseudo-codes. Statistical methods will be used to explore the impact of integrating the additional information on (a) prevalence estimates (rheumatoid arthritis), and (b) estimates of dates of first relevant presentation (ovarian cancer). A visualization tool for the integrated graphical display of coded and NLP generated data is being developed. It will be used to validate the novel data through clinician and researcher review, and thus to explore the value of these techniques in improving the quality and accessibility of information in electronic patient records. Through user centred social informatics approaches, we are also explore what influences clinicians in the balance between recording free text vs using standard codes (e.g 002.23 Appendicectomy), and how information needs to be stored for it to be useful to and retrievable by clinicians. Our collaboration: This Wellcome Trust funded study is a collaboration between Brighton and Sussex Medical School, the Universities of Sussex and Brighton and University College London.

School of Computing, Robert Gordon University, St Andrew Street, Aberdeen, Lecture Room C48, 14:00 – 15:00.

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