Matthew D. Solomon MD, PhD, Grace Tabada MPH, Amanda Allen, Sue Hee Sung MPH, Alan S. Go MD
Background Systematic case identification is critical to improving population health, but widely used diagnosis code-based approaches for conditions like valvular heart disease are inaccurate and lack specificity. Objective To develop and validate natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to identify aortic stenosis (AS) cases and associated parameters from semi-structured echocardiogram reports and compare its accuracy to administrative diagnosis codes. Methods Using 1,003 physician-adjudicated echocardiogram reports from Kaiser Permanente Northern California, a large, integrated healthcare system (>4.5 million members), NLP algorithms were developed and validated to achieve positive and negative predictive values >95% for identifying AS and associated echocardiographic parameters. Final NLP algorithms were applied to all adult echocardiography reports performed between 2008-2018, and compared to ICD-9/10 diagnosis code-based definitions for AS found from 14 days before to six months after the procedure date. Results A total of 927,884 eligible echocardiograms were identified during the study period among 519,967 patients. Application of the final NLP algorithm classified 104,090 (11.2%) echocardiograms with any AS (mean age 75.2 years, 52% women), with only 67,297 (64.6%) having a diagnosis code for AS between 14 days before and up to six months after the associated echocardiogram. Among those without associated diagnosis codes, 19% of patients had hemodynamically significant AS (i.e., greater than mild disease). Conclusion A validated NLP algorithm applied to a systemwide echocardiography database was substantially more accurate than diagnosis codes for identifying AS. Leveraging machine learning-based approaches on unstructured EHR data can facilitate more effective individual and population management than using administrative data alone.