Use of medical data, also known as electronic health records, in research helps develop and advance medical science. However, protecting patient confidentiality and identity while using medical data for analysis is crucial. Medical data can be in the form of tabular structures (i.e. tables), free-form narratives, and images. This study focuses on medical data in the free form longitudinal text. De-identification of electronic health records provides the opportunity to use such data for research without it affecting patient privacy, and avoids the need for individual patient consent. In recent years there is increasing interest in developing an accurate, robust and adaptable automatic de-identification system for electronic health records. This is mainly due to the dilemma between the availability of an abundance of health data, and the inability to use such data in research due to legal and ethical restrictions. De-identification tracks in competitions such as the 2014 i2b2 UTHealth and the 2016 CEGS N-GRID shared tasks have provided a great platform to advance this area. The primary reasons for this include the open source nature of the dataset and the fact that raw psychiatric data were used for 2016 competitions. This study focuses on noticeable trend changes in the techniques used in the development of automatic de-identification for longitudinal clinical narratives. More specifically, the shift from using conditional random fields (CRF) based systems only or rules (regular expressions, dictionary or combinations) based systems only, to hybrid models (combining CRF and rules), and more recently to deep learning based systems. We review the literature and results that arose from the 2014 and the 2016 competitions and discuss the outcomes of these systems. We also provide a list of research questions that emerged from this survey.
Patient notes contain a wealth of information of potentially great interest to medical investigators. However, to protect patients' privacy, Protected Health Information (PHI) must be removed from the patient notes before they can be legally released, a process known as patient note de-identification. The main objective for a de-identification system is to have the highest possible recall. Recently, the first neural-network-based de-identification system has been proposed, yielding state-of-the-art results. Unlike other systems, it does not rely on human-engineered features, which allows it to be quickly deployed, but does not leverage knowledge from human experts or from electronic health records (EHRs). In this work, we explore a method to incorporate human-engineered features as well as features derived from EHRs to a neural-network-based de-identification system. Our results show that the addition of features, especially the EHR-derived features, further improves the state-of-the-art in patient note de-identification, including for some of the most sensitive PHI types such as patient names. Since in a real-life setting patient notes typically come with EHRs, we recommend developers of de-identification systems to leverage the information EHRs contain.
Recent approaches based on artificial neural networks (ANNs) have shown promising results for named-entity recognition (NER). In order to achieve high performances, ANNs need to be trained on a large labeled dataset. However, labels might be difficult to obtain for the dataset on which the user wants to perform NER: label scarcity is particularly pronounced for patient note de-identification, which is an instance of NER. In this work, we analyze to what extent transfer learning may address this issue. In particular, we demonstrate that transferring an ANN model trained on a large labeled dataset to another dataset with a limited number of labels improves upon the state-of-the-art results on two different datasets for patient note de-identification.
De-identification of clinical records is an extremely important process which enables the use of the wealth of information present in them. There are a lot of techniques available for this but none of the method implementation has evaluated the scalability, which is an important benchmark. We evaluated numerous deep learning techniques such as BiLSTM-CNN, IDCNN, CRF, BiLSTM-CRF, SpaCy, etc. on both the performance and efficiency. We propose that the SpaCy model implementation for scrubbing sensitive PHI data from medical records is both well performing and extremely efficient compared to other published models.
Objective: Patient notes in electronic health records (EHRs) may contain critical information for medical investigations. However, the vast majority of medical investigators can only access de-identified notes, in order to protect the confidentiality of patients. In the United States, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) defines 18 types of protected health information (PHI) that needs to be removed to de-identify patient notes. Manual de-identification is impractical given the size of EHR databases, the limited number of researchers with access to the non-de-identified notes, and the frequent mistakes of human annotators. A reliable automated de-identification system would consequently be of high value. Materials and Methods: We introduce the first de-identification system based on artificial neural networks (ANNs), which requires no handcrafted features or rules, unlike existing systems. We compare the performance of the system with state-of-the-art systems on two datasets: the i2b2 2014 de-identification challenge dataset, which is the largest publicly available de-identification dataset, and the MIMIC de-identification dataset, which we assembled and is twice as large as the i2b2 2014 dataset. Results: Our ANN model outperforms the state-of-the-art systems. It yields an F1-score of 97.85 on the i2b2 2014 dataset, with a recall 97.38 and a precision of 97.32, and an F1-score of 99.23 on the MIMIC de-identification dataset, with a recall 99.25 and a precision of 99.06. Conclusion: Our findings support the use of ANNs for de-identification of patient notes, as they show better performance than previously published systems while requiring no feature engineering.