The clinical notes in a given patient record contain much redundancy, in large part due to clinicians' documentation habit of copying from previous notes in the record and pasting into a new note. Previous work has shown that this redundancy has a negative impact on the quality of text mining and topic modeling in particular. In this paper we describe a novel variant of Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) topic modeling, Red-LDA, which takes into account the inherent redundancy of patient records when modeling content of clinical notes. To assess the value of Red-LDA, we experiment with three baselines and our novel redundancy-aware topic modeling method: given a large collection of patient records, (i) apply vanilla LDA to all documents in all input records; (ii) identify and remove all redundancy by chosing a single representative document for each record as input to LDA; (iii) identify and remove all redundant paragraphs in each record, leaving partial, non-redundant documents as input to LDA; and (iv) apply Red-LDA to all documents in all input records. Both quantitative evaluation carried out through log-likelihood on held-out data and topic coherence of produced topics and qualitative assessment of topics carried out by physicians show that Red-LDA produces superior models to all three baseline strategies. This research contributes to the emerging field of understanding the characteristics of the electronic health record and how to account for them in the framework of data mining. The code for the two redundancy-elimination baselines and Red-LDA is made publicly available to the community.
Cohen, R., Aviram, I., Elhadad, M., & Elhadad, N. (2014). Redundancy-aware topic modeling for patient record notes. PLoS ONE, 9(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0087555