Among the many ways healthcare analytics is now being successfully applied, approaches revolving around the automatic parsing and processing of natural language are some of the most obviously fruitful. At one major, upcoming Conference for healthcare professionals, natural language processing (NLP) will take a prominent position on stage over the course of the proceedings.
A question of significant concern for many healthcare organizations is how to obtain more and better data to apply analytics to. However accessible they might be, electronic health records are now seen by virtually all experts as only a small part of the overall solution.
The reality is that much of the information allowing the productive, life-enhancing provision of healthcare today is still conveyed in spoken form among the involved parties. Whether a patient’s report to a nurse leads to a new realization or talk among surgeons and assistants makes a successful procedure more likely, natural language is everywhere important to healthcare.
The machine-assisted technique NLP makes it possible to finally start bringing these many varied sources into the family of those that produce data that can later be assessed using analytics. While there will always be many accommodations that need to be made along the way, successfully incorporating NLP into a healthcare organization’s data-gathering processes can be one of the most important moves of all.
As anyone who has looked into the subject will realize, the technology of NLP remains, in many respects, in its infancy. New NLP developments and discoveries crop up almost constantly, and only by keeping up with most or all of these can any organization hope to make the most of this approach.
At the same time, there are also built-in, inherent challenges that come with trying to apply NLP in any healthcare context. As a result, any organization that hopes to make fruitful use of this potentially valuable tool must take care to recognize the many challenges that will have to be overcome to do so. Fortunately, attending a conference where others with similar commitments are ready to share their findings will always make a difference.