Research Area:  Machine Learning
There has been vast and growing amount of healthcare data especially with the rapid adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) as a result of the HITECH act of 2009. It is estimated that around 80% of the clinical information resides in the unstructured narrative of an EHR. Recently, natural language processing (NLP) techniques have offered opportunities to extract information from unstructured clinical texts needed for various clinical applications. A popular method for enabling secondary uses of EHRs is information or concept extraction, a subtask of NLP that seeks to locate and classify elements within text based on the context. Extraction of clinical concepts without considering the context has many complications, including inaccurate diagnosis of patients and contamination of study cohorts. Identifying the negation status and whether a clinical concept belongs to patients or his family members are two of the challenges faced in context detection. A negation algorithm called Dependency Parser Negation (DEEPEN) has been developed in this research study by taking into account the dependency relationship between negation words and concepts within a sentence using the Stanford Dependency Parser. The study results demonstrate that DEEPEN, can reduce the number of incorrect negation assignment for patients with positive findings, and therefore improve the identification of patients with the target clinical findings in EHRs. Additionally, an NLP system consisting of section segmentation and relation discovery was developed to identify patients family history. To assess the generalizability of the negation and family history algorithm, data from a different clinical institution was used in both algorithm evaluations.
Name of the Researcher:  Mehrabi, Saeed
Name of the Supervisor(s):  Palakal, Mathew J.
Year of Completion:  2016
University:  Indiana University
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