Say what? Translator aims at medical terminology

Thanks to the expansion of electronic health records (EHRs) and patient portals, individuals have more access to health-related data than ever. But complex medical language can often keep people from understanding much of it. To improve patients' comprehension, researchers have developed a translator of medical terminology.

The platform, called Clinical NotesAid, uses natural language processing to help explain to patients what is in their records. Working like the conventional translator—think Google Translate—Clinical NotesAid prompts users to input a passage into a box and clicking a “simplify" button. The platform then uses an array of existing systems, such as Wikipedia, to present the entered passage in layman’s terms.

“Clinical NotesAid helps patients comprehend their EHR notes by linking clinical jargon to corresponding lay terms, definitions and other related patient education materials,” according to the Clinical NotesAid website.  

Developed by Hong Yu, PhD, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s College of Information and Computer Science, the translator hopes to increase medical literacy in patients in need. Free for public use, the platform can be used at any time by any patient, with the goal of improving healthcare to all populations.