Toward electronic surveillance of invasive mold diseases in hematology-oncology patients: An expert system combining natural language processing of chest computed tomography reports, microbiology, and antifungal drug data

Michelle Ananda-Rajah, Christoph Norbert Bergmeir, Francois Petitjean, Monica A. Slavin, Karin A. Thursky, Geoffrey I. Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose Prospective epidemiologic surveillance of invasive mold disease (IMD) in hematology patients is hampered by the absence of a reliable laboratory prompt. This study develops an expert system for electronic surveillance of IMD that combines probabilities using natural language processing (NLP) of computed tomography (CT) reports with microbiology and antifungal drug data to improve prediction of IMD. Methods Microbiology indicators and antifungal drug-dispensing data were extracted from hospital information systems at three tertiary hospitals for 123 hematology-oncology patients. Of this group, 64 case patients had 26 probable/proven IMD according to international definitions, and 59 patients were uninfected controls. Derived probabilities from NLP combined with medical expertise identified patients at high likelihood of IMD, with remaining patients processed by a machine-learning classifier trained on all available features. Results Compared with the baseline text classifier, the expert system that incorporated the best performing algorithm (näive Bayes) improved specificity from 50.8% (95% CI, 37.5% to 64.1%) to 74.6% (95% CI, 61.6% to 85.0%), reducing false positives by48%from 29 to 15; improved sensitivity slightly from 96.9% (95% CI, 89.2% to 99.6%) to 98.4% (95% CI, 91.6% to 100%); and improved receiver operating characteristic area from 73.9% (95% CI, 67.1% to 80.6%) to 92.8% (95% CI, 88% to 97.5%). Conclusion An expert system that uses multiple sources of data (CT reports, microbiology, antifungal drug dispensing) is a promising approach to continuous prospective surveillance of IMD in the hospital, and demonstrates reduced false notifications (positives) compared with NLP of CT reports alone. Our expert system could provide decision support for IMD surveillance, which is critical to antifungal stewardship and improving supportive care in cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJCO Clinical Cancer Informatics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2017

Cite this