Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) has been an important practice for medical practitioners. However, as the number of medical publications increases dramatically, it is becoming extremely difficult for medical experts to review all the contents available and make an informative treatment plan for their patients. A variety of frameworks, including the PICO framework which is named after its elements (Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome), have been developed to enable fine-grained searches, as the first step to faster decision making. In this work, we propose a novel entity recognition system that identifies PICO entities within medical publications and achieves state-of-the-art performance in the task. This is achieved by the combination of four 2D Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) for character feature extraction, and a Highway Residual connection to facilitate deep Neural Network architectures. We further introduce a PICO Statement classifier, that identifies sentences that not only contain all PICO entities but also answer questions stated in PICO. To facilitate this task we also introduce a high quality dataset, manually annotated by medical practitioners. With the combination of our proposed PICO Entity Recognizer and PICO Statement classifier we aim to advance EBM and enable its faster and more accurate practice.
Keywords: Evidence Based Medicine; Machine learning; Natural Language Processing; Neural networks; PICO.
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