Purpose: Reduction in unplanned episodes of care, such as emergency department visits and unplanned hospitalizations, are important quality outcome measures. However, many events are only documented in free-text clinician notes and are labor intensive to detect by manual medical record review.
Methods: We studied 308,096 free-text machine-readable documents linked to individual entries in our electronic health records, representing care for patients with breast, GI, or thoracic cancer, whose treatment was initiated at one academic medical center, Stanford Health Care (SHC). Using a clinical text-mining tool, we detected unplanned episodes documented in clinician notes (for non-SHC visits) or in coded encounter data for SHC-delivered care and the most frequent symptoms documented in emergency department (ED) notes.
Results: Combined reporting increased the identification of patients with one or more unplanned care visits by 32% (15% using coded data; 20% using all the data) among patients with 3 months of follow-up and by 21% (23% using coded data; 28% using all the data) among those with 1 year of follow-up. Based on the textual analysis of SHC ED notes, pain (75%), followed by nausea (54%), vomiting (47%), infection (36%), fever (28%), and anemia (27%), were the most frequent symptoms mentioned. Pain, nausea, and vomiting co-occur in 35% of all ED encounter notes.
Conclusion: The text-mining methods we describe can be applied to automatically review free-text clinician notes to detect unplanned episodes of care mentioned in these notes. These methods have broad application for quality improvement efforts in which events of interest occur outside of a network that allows for patient data sharing.
Copyright © 2015 by American Society of Clinical Oncology.