Domain-Relevant Embeddings for Medical Question Similarity

Research paper by Clara McCreery, Namit Katariya, Anitha Kannan, Manish Chablani, Xavier Amatriain

Indexed on: 12 Feb '21Published on: 09 Oct '19Published in: arXiv - Computer Science - Learning


The rate at which medical questions are asked online significantly exceeds the capacity of qualified people to answer them, leaving many questions unanswered or inadequately answered. Many of these questions are not unique, and reliable identification of similar questions would enable more efficient and effective question answering schema. While many research efforts have focused on the problem of general question similarity, these approaches do not generalize well to the medical domain, where medical expertise is often required to determine semantic similarity. In this paper, we show how a semi-supervised approach of pre-training a neural network on medical question-answer pairs is a particularly useful intermediate task for the ultimate goal of determining medical question similarity. While other pre-training tasks yield an accuracy below 78.7% on this task, our model achieves an accuracy of 82.6% with the same number of training examples, an accuracy of 80.0% with a much smaller training set, and an accuracy of 84.5% when the full corpus of medical question-answer data is used.