Health Care / Life Sciences

In Search Of Apps To Leverage Public BioMolecular Data In RDF Platform

rsz_rdfpfThe European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) that is part of Europe’s leading life sciences laboratory this fall launched a new RDF platform hosting data from six of the public database archives it maintains. That includes peer-reviewed and published data, submitted through large-scale experiments, from databases covering genes and gene expression, proteins (with SIB), pathways, samples, biomodels and molecules with drug-like properties. And next week, during a competition at SWAT4LS in Edinburgh, it’s hoping to draw developers with innovative use case ideas for life-sciences apps that can leverage that data to the benefit of bioinformaticians or bench biologists.

“We need developers to build apps on top of the platform, to build apps to pull in data from these and other sources,” explains Andy Jenkinson, Technical Project Manager at EMBL-EBI. “There is the potential using semantic technology to build those apps more rapidly,” he says, as it streamlines integrating biological data, which is a huge challenge given the data’s complexity and variety. And such apps will be a great help for lab scientists who don’t know anything about working directly with RDF data and SPARQL queries.

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HealthCare.Gov: Progress Made But BackEnd Struggles Continue

rsz_hcgovThe media has been reporting the last few hours on the Obama administration’s self-imposed deadline for fixing HealthCare.gov. According to these reports, the site is now working more than 90 percent of the time, up from 40 percent in October; that pages on the website are loading in less than a second, down from about eight; that 50,000 people can simultaneously use the site and that it supports 800,000 visitors a day; and page-load failures are down to under 1 percent.

There’s also word, however, that while the front-end may be improved, there are still problems on the back-end. Insurance companies continue to complain they aren’t getting information correctly to support signups. “The key question,” according to CBS News reporter John Dickerson this morning, “is whether that link between the information coming from the website getting to the insurance company – if that link is not strong, people are not getting what was originally promised in the entire process.” If insurance companies aren’t getting the right information for processing plan enrollments, individuals going to the doctor’s after January 1 may find that they aren’t, in fact, covered.

Jeffrey Zients, the man spearheading the website fix, at the end of November did point out that work remains to be done on the backend for tasks such as coordinating payments and application information with insurance companies. Plans are for that to be in effect by mid-January.

As it turns out, among components of its backend technology, according to this report in the NY Times, is the MarkLogic Enterprise NoSQL database, which in its recent Version 7 release also added the ability to store and query data in RDF format using SPARQL syntax.

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Help For HealthCare: Mapping Unstructured Clinical Notes To ICD-10 Coding Schemes

Photo of Amit ShethThe health care industry – and the American citizenry at large – has been focused of late on the problems surrounding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the federal website’s issues foremost among them. But believe it or not, there are other things the healthcare industry needs to prepare for, among them the October 1, 2014 date for replacing the World Health Organization’s International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems ICD-9 code sets used to report medical diagnoses and inpatient procedures by ICD-10 code sets. ICD-9 uses 14,000 diagnosis codes which will increase to 68,000 in ICD-10, which is a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) code set requirement.

Natural language processing has had the primary role in many solutions aimed at transforming large volumes of unstructured clinical data into information that healthcare IT application vendors and their hospital customers can leverage. But there’s an argument being made that understanding unstructured text of clinical notes that contain a huge stash of information and then mapping them to fine-grained ICD-10 coding schemes requires a combination of NLP, advanced linguistics, machine learning and semantic web technologies, and Amit Sheth, professor of computer science and engineering at Wright State University and director of the Kno.e.sis Center is making them. (See our story yesterday for a look at how the NLP market is evolving overall, including in healthcare.)

“ICD-10 has thousands of codes with millions of possible permutations and combinations. A rule-based approach is not effective to cover the huge number of ICD-10 codes.” Sheth says. Extracting the correct concepts, identifying the relationship between these concepts and mapping them to the correct code is a major challenge, with codes often formed by information from various sections of a clinical document that itself is subject to individual physicians’ style of recording information, among other factors.

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Big Data Analytics Leading to Better Patient Outcomes

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Samuel Greengard of Baseline Magazine reports, “Few fields benefit more from advanced analytics than health care. Somewhere between the doctor’s office and the somewhat abstract world of epidemiological data is the real world of patients and outcomes. ‘Today, in the outpatient setting, 25 percent of adverse affects are caused by poor or inadequate follow up of abnormal test results,’ says Carlton Moore, associate professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. In the past, ‘There had been no simple way to manage the process and improve outcomes’.” Read more

HealthTap Brings Instant Gratification to Healthcare With New TalkToDocs App

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PALO ALTO, CA–(Marketwired – Oct 30, 2013) - HealthTap, the company leading the mobile revolution in healthcare, today unveiled TalkToDocs. This unique new app makes the knowledge of 50,000+ doctors available immediately anytime, anywhere. Using the simple, voice-activated interface of the new TalkToDocs app, anyone who needs health information can simply speak their health- and wellness-related questions and receive instantaneous, personalized responses from qualified doctors, at no cost. Read more

Looking for Signs of Depression on Twitter with Natural Language Processing

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Elizabeth Harrington of Free Beacon reports, “The federal government is studying how to use Twitter for surveillance on depressed people. The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) began a study financed by the National Institutes of Health last month that will provide ‘population level depression monitoring’ through the social media site. The project, ‘Utilizing Social Media as a Resource for Mental Health Surveillance,’ is costing taxpayers $82,800.” Read more

AOTA Launches New Online NBCOT® Exam Prep Center With Silverchair

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Bethesda, MD / Charlottesville, VA (PRWEB) October 10, 2013 — The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and Silverchair announce the launch of a new interactive online test prep center designed to help occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant students pass their NBCOT® OTR® and COTA® exams.

Developed and reviewed by top occupational therapy leaders and educators across all practice areas, AOTA’s NBCOT® Exam Prep -http://nbcotexamprep.aota.org - provides nearly 1,000 online self-assessment questions and almost 100 clinical simulation scenarios that help students and new graduates focus on the topics they’ll need to master. Read more

Alme For Healthcare: A Virtual Personal Assistant For Disease Management Debuts

rsz_1rsz_almepixAlme for Healthcare brings the personal virtual assistant to the disease management space. Next IT’s Alme natural language platform has a history in other sectors, including financial services, where it’s servicing loan-insurance for SWBC; transportation, where it’s enabling self-service for Alaska Airlines customers; and Aetna, where it’s supporting new user registrations, among others. In fact, Aetna is one of the customers it’s working with on the new healthcare virtual assistant that is designed to improve patient outcomes and quality of care.

The personal assistant functions in a multi-modal model, supporting both talking in natural language and typing; across multiple platforms, including smart phones and tablets; and with multi-lingual capabilities. The conversational language assistant is based on what Next IT notes is a comprehensive patient ontology, support for goal-based conversations (such as helping patients stick with treatment plans), and interactive concept illustrations (pointing out where to do at-home injections, for example).

“We’re working on disease management,” says Fred Brown, founder and CEO of Next IT. “People see their doctor every six months and then sort of forget what they’re supposed to do. So we want to provide real-time help and assistance for them, and an escalation path to a live medical professional when needed.”

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Researchers Find New Machine Learning Method for Effectively Flagging Post-Stroke Dangers

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PHILADELPHIA, October 4, 2013 — A team of experts in neurocritical care, engineering, and informatics, with the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, have devised a new way to detect which stroke patients may be at risk of a serious adverse event following a ruptured brain aneurysm. This new, data-driven machine learning model, involves an algorithm for computers to combine results from various uninvasive tests to predict a secondary event. Preliminary results were released at the Neurocritical Care Society Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. Read more

Semantic Tech To The Rescue For Medicare Administrative Contractor

rsz_readWhen a Medicare administrative contractor found itself under the gun to improve its performance in order to retain its business with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, it was able to leverage semantic technology to realize its goals.

The audience at last week’s Semantic Technology & Business Conference heard about this case study from management consultancy Blue Slate Solutions, which specializes in improving and transforming operations through business process and analytic transformation and which spearheaded the semantic project for the contractor. “This client was struggling in the medical review process, to decide if claims should be paid,” recounted David S. Read, Blue Slate CTO.

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