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Zebras -vs- Horses

Watching the development of a newborn unfold is both exciting and terrifying. As a physician and now parent of a newborn, I can say with certainty that the logical side of me struggles when diagnosing my own child. My baby wasn’t even a day old when I was already convinced that she might have Hirschsprung Disease. Later I learned the nurse had changed her diaper (during my brief nap or rather, collapse, due to pure exhaustion) and forgot to mention her intestines are indeed doing their job. As you progress you learn, as in medical school, to assume the more common problems and be aware of when you should go down the less common diagnosis route. A blocked tear duct in babies can look scary but is relatively common (1 in 25) and often clears by non-invasive methods; babies really do cry relentlessly sometimes and this is completely ‘normal’ - you learn to realize when it’s simply just the trials and tribulations of a growing child- and when it’s not. In medicine this is referred to as the Zebras -vs- Horses Phenomenon - aka look for the most common diagnosis not the most rare first. 


We rely on obtaining as much information about a topic as possible to mitigate risk and unknowns in business and in our daily lives.  That knowledge becomes the backbone of our decision support. The trouble is, there is so much information produced daily, that in our hectic lives we can rarely go through it all, let alone sift through the information to only focus on pertinent knowledge to retain.  But are you finding the most up-to-date information? Is the information you are relying on for your decision support, years or even decades old?

Decision support straight to your inbox

Linguamatics NLP provides an Alerting capability to reduce the time required to review and provide results that are appropriate to your needs. Alerting allows you to schedule NLP search queries to be run at desired intervals, whether it is monthly, weekly, or even daily to keep up-to-date with your newest indexed information. 

This knowledge can be delivered via email to an individual or groups with the most recent and relevant information at your fingertips at all times. This broadens the benefits gained from an NLP approach – recipients of these emails can be across the organization, not just Linguamatics hands-on users.

The range and application of the alerting can be as broad as you need. You are not limited to one question but can schedule as many query alerts as you would like, to differing groups of recipients, as appropriate. This flexibility enables many different groups (e.g. different therapeutic area leads, medical affairs teams, safety assessment groups, to name but a few) to keep up-to-date.


In the rapidly evolving fight against COVID-19, IQVIA is committed to deploying our resources and capabilities to help everyone in healthcare do what needs to be done, and to keep things moving forward. Pharmaceutical and healthcare organizations, governments, and the broader scientific communities around the world are working to assess the impact of the virus, and how this can be tackled.

As part of this effort, it’s critical to have access to the best evidence from a broad range of data, including scientific literature, clinical trials and other textual sources. For intelligence from unstructured text, Linguamatics can help. Our Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology enables fast, systematic, and comprehensive insight generation from unstructured text. These sources can include scientific literature, clinical trial records, preprints, internal sources, social media, and news. Capturing key information from these many sources and synthesizing into one place – an Evidence Hub – gives users a deeper understanding of everything that’s going on. This approach can speed answers to key questions to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, such as:


Until recently I kept hearing claims such as, “Vaping is so much better for you than smoking…” My response is “It’s just a matter of time before the data will let us know”. Turns out the data is starting to speak, and it doesn’t have a positive outlook on the matter. Vaping is really in its infancy, and research even more so. We are still discovering which additives are in which types of vaping cartridges. Let’s compare vaping to tobacco: the Cancer Council in Australia reports that tobacco has been grown in the Americas for nearly 8,000 years, and the first significant medical reports weren’t out until the 1950s and 1960s. Relatively speaking we are early to this arena. Fast forward to the present where we know cigarettes have over 4,000 chemicals, 70 of which are known carcinogens.


It Takes a Village to Raise Modern Medicine

Learning from the past

“It takes a village to raise a child” is a popular old African proverb, that in my opinion has a lot of merit. Now that single parents are part of the mainstream, as well as divorced families, and other non-traditional parenting units and methods are adopted; it’s still very important for the nurturing and development to come from many different influences- especially those that are closest. I also believe this old proverb can be applied to not just childrearing, but in other areas, such as how we work together and adopt new methods to make healthcare better.