Date of this Version

10-22-2010

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Background

As the use of electronic health records (EHRs) becomes more widespread, so does the need to search and provide effective information discovery within them. Querying by keyword has emerged as one of the most effective paradigms for searching. Most work in this area is based on traditional Information Retrieval (IR) techniques, where each document is compared individually against the query. We compare the effectiveness of two fundamentally different techniques for keyword search of EHRs.

Methods

We built two ranking systems. The traditional BM25 system exploits the EHRs' content without regard to association among entities within. The Clinical ObjectRank (CO) system exploits the entities' associations in EHRs using an authority-flow algorithm to discover the most relevant entities. BM25 and CO were deployed on an EHR dataset of the cardiovascular division of Miami Children's Hospital. Using sequences of keywords as queries, sensitivity and specificity were measured by two physicians for a set of 11 queries related to congenital cardiac disease.

Results

Our pilot evaluation showed that CO outperforms BM25 in terms of sensitivity (65% vs. 38%) by 71% on average, while maintaining the specificity (64% vs. 61%). The evaluation was done by two physicians.

Conclusions

Authority-flow techniques can greatly improve the detection of relevant information in EHRs and hence deserve further study.

Comments

This article was originally published in BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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