Background: Similarity-based retrieval of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) from large clinical information systems provides physicians the evidence support in making diagnoses or referring examinations for the suspected cases. Clinical Terms in EHRs represent high-level conceptual information and the similarity measure established based on these terms reflects the chance of inter-patient disease co-occurrence. The assumption that clinical terms are equally relevant to a disease is unrealistic, reducing the prediction accuracy. Here we propose a term weighting approach supported by PubMed search engine to address this issue. Methods: We collected and studied 112 abdominal computed tomography imaging examination reports from four hospitals in Hong Kong. Clinical terms, which are the image findings related to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), were extracted from the reports. Through two systematic PubMed search methods, the generic and specific term weightings were established by estimating the conditional probabilities of clinical terms given HCC. Each report was characterized by an ontological feature vector and there were totally 6216 vector pairs. We optimized the modified direction cosine (mDC) with respect to a regularization constant embedded into the feature vector. Equal, generic and specific term weighting approaches were applied to measure the similarity of each pair and their performances for predicting inter-patient co-occurrence of HCC diagnoses were compared by using Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC) analysis. Results: The Areas under the curves (AUROCs) of similarity scores based on equal, generic and specific term weighting approaches were 0.735, 0.728 and 0.743 respectively (p < 0.01). In comparison with equal term weighting, the performance was significantly improved by specific term weighting (p < 0.01) but not by generic term weighting. The clinical terms "Dysplastic nodule", "nodule of liver" and "equal density (isodense) lesion" were found the top three image findings associated with HCC in PubMed. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the optimized similarity measure with specific term weighting to EHRs can improve significantly the accuracy for predicting the inter-patient co-occurrence of diagnosis when compared with equal and generic term weighting approaches.
- Health Policy
- Health Informatics