Synthetic data for annotation and extraction of family history information from clinical text
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background The limited availability of clinical texts for Natural Language Processing purposes is hindering the progress of the field. This article investigates the use of synthetic data for the annotation and automated extraction of family history information from Norwegian clinical text. We make use of incrementally developed synthetic clinical text describing patients’ family history relating to cases of cardiac disease and present a general methodology which integrates the synthetically produced clinical statements and annotation guideline development. The resulting synthetic corpus contains 477 sentences and 6030 tokens. In this work we experimentally assess the validity and applicability of the annotated synthetic corpus using machine learning techniques and furthermore evaluate the system trained on synthetic text on a corpus of real clinical text, consisting of de-identified records for patients with genetic heart disease. Results For entity recognition, an SVM trained on synthetic data had class weighted precision, recall and F1-scores of 0.83, 0.81 and 0.82, respectively. For relation extraction precision, recall and F1-scores were 0.74, 0.75 and 0.74. Conclusions A system for extraction of family history information developed on synthetic data generalizes well to real, clinical notes with a small loss of accuracy. The methodology outlined in this paper may be useful in other situations where limited availability of clinical text hinders NLP tasks. Both the annotation guidelines and the annotated synthetic corpus are made freely available and as such constitutes the first publicly available resource of Norwegian clinical text.