2018 January JAMIA Journal Club Webinar

January 11, 2018
Free for AMIA members and students of Academic Forum member institutions; Others: $50
Sunghwan Sohn, PhD

Clinical documentation variations and NLP system portability: a case study in asthma birth cohorts across institutions

Author Sunghwan Sohn will discuss this month's JAMIA Journal Club selection:

“Clinical documentation variations and NLP system portability: a case study in asthma birth cohorts across institutions,” Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, ocx138, https://doi.org/10.1093/jamia/ocx138



Sunghwan Sohn, PhD
Assistant Professor
Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN

Dr. Sohn has expertise in mining large-scale electronic health records (EHRs) to unlock unstructured and hidden information using natural language processing and machine learning. His focus areas are information extraction and normalization, patient cohort identification, automated chart review, and surveillance of post-surgical complications. Dr. Sohn's research goal is to create new capacities for clinical research and practice in order to achieve better patient solutions.


  • 40-minute discussion between the authors and the JAMIA Student Editorial Board moderators including salient features of the published study and its potential impact on practice.
  • 20-minute discussion of questions submitted by listeners via the webinar tools.


  • Follow @AMIAinformatics and #JAMIAJC for Journal Club information.
  • Participants also receive short feedback surveys to evaluate the JAMIA JC webinar.


JAMIA Journal Club managers are JAMIA Student Editorial Board members:

Lucy Lu Wang, PhD Candidate, Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 

Daniel R. Schlegel, PhD, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY.



The PubMed citation for the paper under discussion is:

“Clinical documentation variations and NLP system portability: a case study in asthma birth cohorts across institutions,” Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, ocx138, https://doi.org/10.1093/jamia/ocx138 

Students who are not AMIA members, but whose academic institutions are members of the Academic Forum, are eligible for a complimentary JAMIA Journal Club registration. Please contact Susanne Arnold at susanne@amia.org for the discount code. In the email, please include: full name, Academic Department, and the primary Academic Forum representative of that Academic Department. Note that AMIA Student memberships are $50, which allow access to JAMIA, all JAMIA Journal Clubs, and other webinars of interest to the biomedical informatics community. 

Statement of Purpose

The rapid adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) provides a good opportunity to leverage clinical data for clinical research. Natural language processing (NLP), has been shown to be a promising way to automate chart review to enable large-scale research studies that require information embedded in clinical narratives where labor-intensive manual chart review is not feasible.

However, there are variations across institutions that challenge the use of the same NLP tools in analyzing text. These variations include the use of different EMR systems with different reporting schemes, clinical practice and workflow differences, and lack of homogeneity in clinical language from one institution to another. Thus, questions arise whenever an NLP system developed in one corpus may be applied to another corpus with confidence in the results.

In this study, Sohn et al examined the clinical corpus of asthma birth cohorts using the different EMR systems at Mayo Clinic and Sanford Children’s Hospital. In comparing statistics about asthma-related concepts, note types, and more, they explored various aspects of clinical documentation variations associated with NLP system portability for asthma ascertainment across two institutions.

Target Audience

The target audience for this activity is professionals and students interested in biomedical and health informatics.

Learning Objectives

After this live activity, the participant should be better able to:

  • Understand what type of clinical documentation variations exist among different health care institutions
  • Explore issues involved with NLP system portability when ascertaining a specific patient condition gathered from two different EHR systems


Sunghwan Sohn, PhD
Assistant Professor
Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN

Accreditation Statement

The American Medical Informatics Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation Statement

The American Medical Informatics Association designates this live activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™ Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. 

Criteria for Successful Completion

Completion of this live activity is demonstrated by:

  • Viewing the live webinar
  • Optional submission of questions via webinar feature; option to follow @AMIAinformatics and tweet via #JAMIAJC
  • Completion of the evaluation survey emailed at the webinar's conclusion, and 
  • Verification of attendance through the participant's electronic report through the individual login to AMIA Central at www.amia.org. 

The physician participant will be able to generate a CME certificate through the AMIA automated system. 
For a certificate of completion, contact Pesha@amia.org.

Commercial Support

No commercial support was received for this activity.

Disclosure Policy

As a provider accredited by the ACCME, AMIA requires that everyone who is in a position to control the content of an educational activity disclose all relevant financial relationships with any commercial interest for 12 months prior to the educational activity.

The ACCME considers relationships of the person involved in the CME activity to include financial relationships of a spouse or partner.

Faculty and planners who refuse to disclose relevant financial relationships will be disqualified from participating in the CME activity. For an individual with no relevant financial relationship(s), the participants must be informed that no conflicts of interest or financial relationship(s) exist.

AMIA uses a number of methods to resolve potential conflicts of interest, including: limiting content of the presentation to that which has been reviewed by one or more peer reviewers; ensuring that all scientific research referred to conforms to generally accepted standards of experimental design, data collection, and analysis; undertaking review of the educational activity by a content reviewer to evaluate for potential bias, balance in presentation, evidence-based content or other indicators of integrity, and absence of bias; monitoring the educational activity to evaluate for commercial bias in the presentation; and/or reviewing participant feedback to evaluate for commercial bias in the activity.

Disclosures for this Activity

These faculty, planners, and staff who are in a position to control the content of this activity disclose that they and their life partners have no relevant financial relationships with commercial interests: 

JAMIA Journal Club Faculty: Sunghwan Sohn
JAMIA Journal Club planners: Dan Schlegel, Lucy Lu Wang
AMIA staff: Susanne Arnold, Pesha Rubinstein

The following provide their disclosures of relevant financial relationships with commercial interests that have occurred within the previous 12 months:

JAMIA Student Editorial Board Advisor Michael Chiang:

 Grants/Research Support: NIH, NSF
Consultant: Novartis; Clarity Medical Systems (unpaid member of Scientific Advisory Board)

Instructions for Claiming CME/CE Credit

CME site (MyAMIA) works best with IE 8 or above version, Chrome, Safari, and Firefox.

  • Login to your account at amia.org; in upper right hand corner, click on AMIA Central
  • Go to “My Events" under Membership/Activities
  • Click “Apply for Credits" for this webinar
  • Follow the instructions on the Credit Registration page. Be sure both drop-down menus say “physician”
  • To print out your certificate, go to "My CME/CE Credits" under Membership/Activities.
  • Physicians will be able to print out or save their CME certificates.
  • Other attendees: if you require a certificate of participation, please contact pesha@amia.org

Contact Info

For questions about content or CE, email pesha@amia.org.