Patient empowerment via technologies for patient-friendly personalized language

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Free-text reports are used in health care to transfer information between working shifts and sites. This text, written by a physician, nurse, specialist, ward secretary or other healthcare worker, is full of jargon, idioms and shorthand that patients find difficult to understand. If patients are to be empowered to take an active role and make informed decisions in their health care, they need support for understanding these reports. This chapter discusses language technologies as a way to provide support for patients to better understand free-text reports with difficult clinical language. This includes expanding shorthand, replacing words with patient-centric terms, providing term definitions, hyperlinking to further information on patientfriendly and reliable sites on the internet, and personalizing medication advice and other content. To conclude, statistical evaluations and benchmarks in shared tasks give evidence of language technologies being successful in making text easier to understand and better personalized. Moreover, electronic health record s that both patients and clinicians use to read, write and share information are becoming more commonplace and provide a platform for language technologies to assist patients in reading free-text reports.




Adnan, M., Warren, J., & Suominen, H. (2015). Patient empowerment via technologies for patient-friendly personalized language. In Information Technology for Patient Empowerment in Healthcare (pp. 153–163). Walter de Gruyter GmbH.

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