By Chris Funk, Ph.D., Medical Informaticist at Health Language
Hospitals and health systems are sitting on a wealth of patient information that has potential to transform care delivery. Yet analytics infrastructures designed to fuel performance improvement have traditionally overlooked much of that data because it resides in health IT systems as unstructured free text.
The industry has made notable inroads with structured patient data through the introduction of standards. Now, healthcare organizations must leverage strategies that enable access and retrieval of critical patient data housed in unstructured information—accounting for as much as 80 percent of clinical documentation, according to industry estimates.
Advances with natural language processing (NLP) technology hold great promise as the answer to this challenge. Increasingly recognized as a powerful tool for unlocking vital clinical data, NLP turns free text into shareable data that can be analyzed and acted upon.