Characteristics of Finnish and Swedish intensive care nursing narratives: a comparative analysis to support the development of clinical language technologies
H Allvin, E Carlsson, H Dalianis, R Danielsson-Ojala, V DaudaraviÄius, M Hassel, D Kokkinakis, H LundgrÃ©n-Laine, G Nilsson, A Nytra, S SalanterÃ¤, M Skeppstedt, Hanna Suominen and S Velupillai
Journal of Biomedical Semantics
Volume Suppl 3,
Background Free text is helpful for entering information into electronic health records, but reusing it is a challenge. The need for language technology for processing Finnish and Swedish healthcare text is therefore evident; however Finnish and Swedish are linguistically very dissimilar. In this paper, we present a comparison of characteristics in Finnish and Swedish free-text nursing narratives from intensive care. This creates a framework for characterizing and comparing clinical text and lays the groundwork for developing clinical language technologies. Methods Our material included daily nursing narratives from one intensive care unit in Finland and Sweden, respectively, with inclusion criteria on patients with an inpatient period of least five days who were at least sixteen years of age. We performed a comparative analysis as part of a collaborative effort between Finnish- and Swedish-speaking healthcare and language technology professionals, which included both qualitative and quantitative aspects. The qualitative analysis addressed the content and structure of three average-sized health records from both countries. The quantitative analysis studied 514 Finnish and 379 Swedish health records using various language technology tools. Results Although the two languages are not closely related, nursing narratives in Finland and Sweden had many properties in common. They both made use of specialized jargon and their content was very similar. However, many of these characteristics were challenging for developing language technology to support producing and using clinical documentation. Conclusions The way of documentation in intensive care was not country or language dependent, but, rather, shared a common context, principles and structural features and even similar vocabulary elements. Technology solutions are, therefore, likely to be applicable to a wider range of natural languages but they need linguistic tailoring.