IBM, MIT AI tool generates questions to help clinicians using EHRs

IBM and Massachusetts Institute of Technology data scientists teamed up to create an artificial intelligence tool that generates questions to help healthcare professionals use EHRs more effectively and efficiently, according to their paper published June 6.

Working with 10 medical experts and using more than 100 patient discharge summaries, researchers at IBM and MIT compiled more than 2,000 questions and 1,000 triggers of questions that physicians may ask when looking at a patient's EHR. They categorized each question or trigger written by the medical experts into groups such as symptom/sign, demographics and test results, making it easier for physicians to navigate through the questions. 

The team then trained a data model to do this organically. For instance, if an EHR notes that a patient had a mass in their neck, one question generated may be about its size or color, in the category of symptoms. 

They found that their model produced a high-quality question 62.5 percent of the time in response to a prompt, but only if given more context. Without the context, the question generation quality declined. 

"Our results demonstrate that existing machine learning systems, including large-scale neural networks, struggle with the tasks we propose. We encourage the community to improve on our baseline models," the researchers wrote. They also opened their machine learning tool to the public for continued work.

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