The UAB Informatics Institute and 2016 CEGS N-GRID de-identification shared task challenge

Academic Article


  • Clinical narratives (the text notes found in patients’ medical records) are important information sources for secondary use in research. However, in order to protect patient privacy, they must be de-identified prior to use. Manual de-identification is considered to be the gold standard approach but is tedious, expensive, slow, and impractical for use with large-scale clinical data. Automated or semi-automated de-identification using computer algorithms is a potentially promising alternative. The Informatics Institute of the University of Alabama at Birmingham is applying de-identification to clinical data drawn from the UAB hospital's electronic medical records system before releasing them for research. We participated in a shared task challenge by the Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science (CEGS) Neuropsychiatric Genome-Scale and RDoC Individualized Domains (N-GRID) at the de-identification regular track to gain experience developing our own automatic de-identification tool. We focused on the popular and successful methods from previous challenges: rule-based, dictionary-matching, and machine-learning approaches. We also explored new techniques such as disambiguation rules, term ambiguity measurement, and used multi-pass sieve framework at a micro level. For the challenge's primary measure (strict entity), our submissions achieved competitive results (f-measures: 87.3%, 87.1%, and 86.7%). For our preferred measure (binary token HIPAA), our submissions achieved superior results (f-measures: 93.7%, 93.6%, and 93%). With those encouraging results, we gain the confidence to improve and use the tool for the real de-identification task at the UAB Informatics Institute.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bui DDA; Wyatt M; Cimino JJ
  • Start Page

  • S54
  • End Page

  • S61
  • Volume

  • 75