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Using Big Data to Assist with Medical Report Coding

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Wednesday 14th

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11:45 | 12:25

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Theatre 18


Keywords defining the session:

- Medical

- Acronym Resolution

- Machine Learning

Takeaway points of the session:

- It is important to note that in today's clinical environment medical coding procedures are achieving higher productivity when using a computer-aided tool

- By training models to predict codes, we can also complete other interesting tasks like predicting diagnosis and more.


Medical documentation is an important process in the healthcare industry. Most healthcare institutions maintain a longitudinal medical record (e.g., spanning multiple observations or treatments over time) for each of their patients, documenting, for example, the patient’s history, encounters with clinical staff within the institution, treatment received, and/or plans for future treatment. Such documentation facilitates maintaining continuity of care for the patient across multiple encounters with various clinicians over time. In addition, when an institution’s medical records for large numbers of patients are considered in the aggregate, the information contained therein can be useful for educating clinicians as to treatment efficacy and best practices, for internal auditing within the institution, for quality assurance, etc.
Historically, each patient’s medical record was maintained as a physical paper folder, often referred to as a “medical chart”, or “chart”. Each patient’s chart would include a stack of paper reports, such as intake forms, history and immunization records, laboratory results and clinicians’ notes. Following an encounter with the patient, such as an office visit, a hospital round or a surgical procedure, the clinician conducting the encounter would provide a narrative note about the encounter to be included in the patient’s chart. Such a note could include, for example, a description of the reason(s) for the patient encounter, an account of any vital signs, test results and/or other clinical data collected during the encounter, one or more diagnoses determined by the clinician from the encounter, and a description of a plan for further treatment. Often, the clinician would verbally dictate the note into an audio recording device or a telephone giving access to such a recording device, to spare the clinician the time it would take to prepare the note in written form. Later, a medical transcriptionist would listen to the audio recording and transcribe it into a text document, which would be inserted on a piece of paper into the patient’s chart for later reference.
Currently, many healthcare institutions are transitioning or have transitioned from paper documentation to electronic medical record systems, in which patients’ longitudinal medical information is stored in a data repository in electronic form. Besides the significant physical space savings afforded by the replacement of paper record-keeping with electronic storage methods, the use of electronic medical records also provides beneficial time savings and other opportunities to clinicians and other healthcare personnel. For example, when updating a patient’s electronic medical record to reflect a current patient encounter, a clinician need only document the new information obtained from the encounter, and need not spend time entering unchanged information such as the patient’s age, gender, medical history, etc. Electronic medical records can also be shared, accessed and updated by multiple different personnel from local and remote locations through suitable user interfaces and network connections, eliminating the need to retrieve and deliver paper files from a crowded file room.
Another modern trend in healthcare management is the importance of medical coding for documentation and billing purposes. In the medical coding process, documented information regarding a patient encounter, such as the patient’s diagnoses and clinical procedures performed, is classified according to one or more standardized taxonomies of codes for reporting to various entities such as payment providers (e.g., health insurance companies that reimburse clinicians for their services). In the United States, some such standardized code systems have been adopted by the federal government, which then maintains the code sets and recommends or mandates their use for billing under programs such as Medicare.