Language, Structure, and Reuse in the Electronic Health Record.

Research paper by Angus A Roberts

Indexed on: 23 Mar '17Published on: 23 Mar '17Published in: AMA journal of ethics


Medical language is at the heart of the electronic health record (EHR), with up to 70 percent of the information in that record being recorded in the natural language, free-text portion. In moving from paper medical records to EHRs, we have opened up opportunities for the reuse of this clinical information through automated search and analysis. Natural language, however, is challenging for computational methods. This paper examines the tension between the nuanced, qualitative nature of medical language and the logical, structured nature of computation as well as the way in which these have interacted with each other through the medium of the EHR. The paper also examines the potential for the computational analysis of natural language to overcome this tension.