National Cancer Institute funds research on computer-generated patient care summaries

Aug. 31, 2018

The University of Illinois at Chicago has received nearly $1.5 million in funding from the National Cancer Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health, to expand research and development of computer-generated patient care summaries as a tool for reducing hospital readmission rates.

Led by UIC’s Barbara Di Eugenio and Andrew Boyd, the funding will support the work of a multidisciplinary team including healthcare, computer science and linguistics experts for four years.

“Our goal is to build an algorithm that can be used alongside any electronic health record to automatically generate customized summaries of hospital stays that can serve as guides for patients’ self-care,” said Di Eugenio, professor of computer of science in the UIC College of Engineering.

According to Boyd, one of the major factors associated with hospital readmission is patient noncompliance with healthcare provider recommendations, which can often be attributed to poor education and communication between care advisers and patients. The summaries are “about helping patients understand that the follow-up appointments and medications noted in their discharge summaries can help keep them healthy and out of the hospital,” Boyd said.

Using Natural Language Processing software for text summarization, the researchers have already started extracting the medical concepts from physician discharge notes and nursing care plans that will serve as sources for the easy to read narratives. Their research on provider terminology has been published in the International Journal of Medical Informatics.

Di Eugenio says that new funding will be used in part to expand their analysis of the divergent medical terminology used by different providers caring for patients with heart failure, but it also will support more work studying the terminology and language patterns common for the end-user: Patients.

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