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Mining information for patient care

Text mining software, used in research at the University of Louisville, is said to be improving the quality of patient outcomes.

A mathematics professor at the university, who holds a doctoral degree in biostatistics, uses the technology in her work researching cancer, genetics, heart disease and environmental health. For the research, Dr. Patricia Cerrito and her team use SAS analytics, consisting of Text Miner, Enterprise Miner and SAS/STAT. The integration of the components enables the team to explore structured data and unstructured text found in hospital billing, medication and physician's chart notes more quickly and deeply than before, according to a press release from SAS.

Using the system to examine large hospital databases for relationships between physician practices and patient outcomes, Cerrito is solving patient care problems that have existed for years. For example, prior to the use of Text Miner, variations in physician practice patterns were surveyed but not analyzed for critical insights, SAS says. Cerrito and her team found that the prescription of certain medications resulted in prolonged hospital stays. The researchers also found that the software's automatic extraction of patient information from the pharmacy order database could enhance or replace manual extraction from patient charts.

According to SAS, the benefits hit close to home when Cerrito's husband received open-heart surgery at Jewish Hospital in Louisville. The surgical team made medication decisions based on Cerrito's research that she believes worked to her husband's benefit.

Says Cerrito, "Text Miner highlights relevant patterns in documents such as clinical reports, and it quantifies text-based information. We move seamlessly to Enterprise Miner to combine and analyze this unstructured text with structured data, such as demographics and laboratory values. And we augment that analysis with SAS/STAT … During any given work day, these benefits add up to significant ROI at the University of Louisville.

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