Smart software to automate analysis of pathology reports

This article first appeared in the February 2013 edition of Pulse+IT Magazine.

Reading and processing narrative-based clinical reports is a time-consuming process. To ease the workload of clinical staff and aid the computer processing of these reports, CSIRO is developing smart clinical decision support software called Medtex. The software is aimed at extracting free text data to aid decision support and take the weight off clinical staff.

Medtex is able to process clinical records such as pathology and radiology reports that contain a lot of valuable medical information that is often buried in text which may be unstructured, ungrammatical or fragmented.

An example is determining the stage of a cancer patient. Determining the stage that a cancer is at involves drawing information from a number of sources such as radiology, pathology and surgical reports. This is usually a time-consuming task requiring the expertise of more than one person.

A simple way of easily and consistently collecting clinical data could improve health outcomes for patients, boost the efficiency of the health system and provide a rich data set for further research.

Medtex works by “learning” what statements to look for and uses SNOMED CT, the internationally defined set of clinical terms, to unify language across information sources. The more reports the software processes, the smarter it gets.

Virtual cancer registry

The medical text analysis software performs cancer registry tasks such as the notification of cancer reports and the coding of notifications data.

The system automatically scans HL7 messages and analyses the free-text reports for terms and concepts relevant to cancer. Classification of pathology reports that are notifiable cancers can be achieved with sensitivities of 98 per cent and specificities of 96 per cent.

To read the full story, click here for the February 2013 issue of Pulse+IT Magazine.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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