Text simplification using consumer health vocabulary to generate patient-centered radiology reporting: Translation and evaluation

Basel Qenam, Tae Youn Kim, Mark J Carroll, Michael A Hogarth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Radiology reporting is a clinically oriented form of documentation that reflects critical information for patients about their health care processes. Realizing its importance, many medical institutions have started providing radiology reports in patient portals. The gain, however, can be limited because of medical language barriers, which require a way for customizing these reports for patients. The open-access, collaborative consumer health vocabulary (CHV) is a terminology system created for such purposes and can be the basis of lexical simplification processes for clinical notes. Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the comprehensibility and suitability of CHV in simplifying radiology reports for consumers. This was done by characterizing the content coverage and the lexical similarity between the terms in the reports and the CHV-preferred terms. Methods: The overall procedure was divided into the following two main stages: (1) translation and (2) evaluation. The translation process involved using MetaMap to link terms in the reports to CHV concepts. This is followed by replacing the terms with CHV-preferred terms using the concept names and sources table (MRCONSO) in the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) Metathesaurus. In the second stage, medical terms in the reports and general terms that are used to describe medical phenomena were selected and evaluated by comparing the words in the original reports with the translated ones. The evaluation includes measuring the content coverage, investigating lexical similarity, and finding trends in missing concepts. Results: Of the 792 terms selected from the radiology reports, 695 of them could be mapped directly to CHV concepts, indicating a content coverage of 88.5%. A total of 51 of the concepts (53%, 51/97) that could not be mapped are names of human anatomical structures and regions, followed by 28 anatomical descriptions and pathological variations (29%, 28/97). In addition, 12 radiology techniques and projections represented 12% of the unmapped concepts, whereas the remaining six concepts (6%, 12/97) were physiological descriptions. The rate of lexical similarity between the CHV-preferred terms and the terms in the radiology reports was approximately 72.6%. Conclusions: The CHV covered a high percentage of concepts found in the radiology reports, but unmapped concepts are associated with areas that are commonly found in radiology reporting. CHV terms also showed a high percentage of lexical similarity with terms in the reports, which contain a myriad of medical jargon. This suggests that many CHV terms might not be suitable for lay consumers who would not be facile with radiology-specific vocabulary. Therefore, further patient-centered content changes are needed of the CHV to increase its usefulness and facilitate its integration into consumer-oriented applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere417
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Consumer Health Information
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Radiology
  • Vocabulary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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