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JMIR Public Health Surveill ; 7(3): e26719, 2021 03 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2197901


BACKGROUND: Patient travel history can be crucial in evaluating evolving infectious disease events. Such information can be challenging to acquire in electronic health records, as it is often available only in unstructured text. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to assess the feasibility of annotating and automatically extracting travel history mentions from unstructured clinical documents in the Department of Veterans Affairs across disparate health care facilities and among millions of patients. Information about travel exposure augments existing surveillance applications for increased preparedness in responding quickly to public health threats. METHODS: Clinical documents related to arboviral disease were annotated following selection using a semiautomated bootstrapping process. Using annotated instances as training data, models were developed to extract from unstructured clinical text any mention of affirmed travel locations outside of the continental United States. Automated text processing models were evaluated, involving machine learning and neural language models for extraction accuracy. RESULTS: Among 4584 annotated instances, 2659 (58%) contained an affirmed mention of travel history, while 347 (7.6%) were negated. Interannotator agreement resulted in a document-level Cohen kappa of 0.776. Automated text processing accuracy (F1 85.6, 95% CI 82.5-87.9) and computational burden were acceptable such that the system can provide a rapid screen for public health events. CONCLUSIONS: Automated extraction of patient travel history from clinical documents is feasible for enhanced passive surveillance public health systems. Without such a system, it would usually be necessary to manually review charts to identify recent travel or lack of travel, use an electronic health record that enforces travel history documentation, or ignore this potential source of information altogether. The development of this tool was initially motivated by emergent arboviral diseases. More recently, this system was used in the early phases of response to COVID-19 in the United States, although its utility was limited to a relatively brief window due to the rapid domestic spread of the virus. Such systems may aid future efforts to prevent and contain the spread of infectious diseases.

Communicable Diseases, Emerging/diagnosis , Electronic Health Records , Information Storage and Retrieval/methods , Public Health Surveillance/methods , Travel/statistics & numerical data , Algorithms , COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Diseases, Emerging/epidemiology , Feasibility Studies , Female , Humans , Machine Learning , Male , Middle Aged , Natural Language Processing , Reproducibility of Results , United States/epidemiology
J Gen Intern Med ; 37(15): 3839-3847, 2022 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2104075


BACKGROUND: Deaths from pneumonia were decreasing globally prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is unclear whether this was due to changes in patient populations, illness severity, diagnosis, hospitalization thresholds, or treatment. Using clinical data from the electronic health record among a national cohort of patients initially diagnosed with pneumonia, we examined temporal trends in severity of illness, hospitalization, and short- and long-term deaths. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort PARTICIPANTS: All patients >18 years presenting to emergency departments (EDs) at 118 VA Medical Centers between 1/1/2006 and 12/31/2016 with an initial clinical diagnosis of pneumonia and confirmed by chest imaging report. EXPOSURES: Year of encounter. MAIN MEASURES: Hospitalization and 30-day and 90-day mortality. Illness severity was defined as the probability of each outcome predicted by machine learning predictive models using age, sex, comorbidities, vital signs, and laboratory data from encounters during years 2006-2007, and similar models trained on encounters from years 2015 to 2016. We estimated the changes in hospitalizations and 30-day and 90-day mortality between the first and the last 2 years of the study period accounted for by illness severity using time covariate decompositions with model estimates. RESULTS: Among 196,899 encounters across the study period, hospitalization decreased from 71 to 63%, 30-day mortality 10 to 7%, 90-day mortality 16 to 12%, and 1-year mortality 29 to 24%. Comorbidity risk increased, but illness severity decreased. Decreases in illness severity accounted for 21-31% of the decrease in hospitalizations, and 45-47%, 32-24%, and 17-19% of the decrease in 30-day, 90-day, and 1-year mortality. Findings were similar among underrepresented patients and those with only hospital discharge diagnosis codes. CONCLUSIONS: Outcomes for community-onset pneumonia have improved across the VA healthcare system after accounting for illness severity, despite an increase in cases and comorbidity burden.

COVID-19 , Pneumonia , Veterans , Humans , United States/epidemiology , Retrospective Studies , Pandemics , COVID-19/therapy , Hospitalization , Patient Acuity , Hospitals