Apple has been granted a patent (number US 11822371 B2) for “Normalization of Medical Terms.” The goal is to simplify medical jargon in, for instance, reports from your doctor that would appear in the company’s Health app.
About the patent
In the patent Apple notes that folks normally visit more than one health institution to obtain medical treatment. For example, a user may periodically visit a neighborhood clinic for annual physical evaluations and for minor medical procedures. An electronic health record (EHR) is a computer-stored and transferrable copy of a user’s physical health record.
The neighborhood clinic may maintain an instance of the user’s electronic health record (e.g., using an EHR system, sometimes referred to as an electronic medical record (EMR) system). When the user visits, a medical professional may update the electronic health record.
However, different instances of the user’s electronic health record may be maintained by other health institutions that are unaffiliated with the neighborhood clinic. For example, the user may have visited a surgical center for a surgery, been transported to an emergency room in connection with an accident, or may have visited a different clinic while on vacation in a different city.
Each of the surgical center, the emergency room, and the different clinic, may have created an instance of the user’s electronic health record, which may be maintained using different EHR systems. The EHR systems may provide patient portals for accessing health records on their systems. However, Apple says that because these portals are built and maintained by different organizations, accessing each by the user may require a unique set of user credentials.
And once the user logs in to a particular portal, she is still limited by what portion of her electronic health record will be available for viewing. Existing computer systems may be able to maintain a single connection to a single EHR system, but challenges may arise when these systems attempt to programmatically maintain multiple connections across multiple EHR systems.
What’s more because different medical professionals contribute to the instances of the electronic health record, data inconsistencies may exist between electronic health records sourced from different EHR systems, Apple says. Conventional data rectification techniques may prove insufficient to resolve these types of data inconsistences, and the tech giant is investigating ways to deal with such issues for users of its Health app.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “A term base can be used to index a raw medical term (e.g., a text string from an electronic health record) to generate a computational expression of the raw medical term. The computational expression of the raw medical term can be used to generate a uniform medical term for the raw medical term.
“The computational expression can be compared with other computational expressions to organize the electronic health record, filter the electronic health record, and provide a uniform presentation of raw medical terms from different events in the electronic health record.”