With electronic health records, computers have proven their worth in tracking, sorting and displaying data. A new study by research from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) showed computers that scan doctors' notes can reduce dangerous complications after surgery.
The study relied upon a Google-like technology called "natural language processing." It examined the complete text in medical records -- especially doctors' notes -- to pick up clues for possible post-surgery complications.
Looking at the records of about 3,000 VA patients between 1999 and 2006, the technology was able to dramatically increase the automated detection of complications such as acute renal failure, deep vein thrombosis, sepsis and pneumonia after surgery.