Making sense of patient experience data

11 Oct 2021

University of Queensland researchers are pioneering the use of artificial intelligence to enable healthcare providers to improve hospital care and patient experiences using real-time data.

For some time, patients have been invited to provide feedback on their healthcare experiences by responding to a text message.

However, Professor Jason Pole, from the UQ Centre for Health Services Research (CHSR), said healthcare providers needed an efficient system to enable them to use the data constructively.

“Initially, CHSR researchers, in partnership with the UQ Global Change Institute (GCI), ran a small trial that demonstrated artificial intelligence could process meaningful patient feedback data efficiently,” he said.

The success of that trial led Professor Pole and colleague Associate Professor Clair Sullivan to examine the feasibility of pioneering AI analysis technology at scale.

Professor Pole said the pilot study demonstrated that an off-the-shelf AI tool, Leximancer, could be used to interpret patient survey data quickly and with a high degree of accuracy.”

“We showed it was possible to drill down into that information and automatically extract comments and key words that offered tangible insights into patient feedback.”

Leximancer was developed by Dr Andrew Smith at UQ almost 20 years ago to identify key trends, concepts, and ideas from large pieces of text.

It has been used in 140 countries and more than 2000 organisations, including law enforcement agencies, higher education and government agencies. However, it has never been used for healthcare data at scale.

By generating an interactive topic list, Leximancer enables users to understand the true meaning of text without potential distortion from human biases.

GCI Director Professor Rachel Parker said the strength of the Digital Health Research Network was that it had drawn together a range of stakeholders from across disciplines to deliver integrated solutions that improve hospital care and patient experience.