Understanding antimicrobial usage patterns and encouraging appropriate antimicrobial usage is a critical component of antimicrobial stewardship. Studies using VetCompass Australia and Natural Language Processing (NLP) have demonstrated antimicrobial usage patterns in companion animal practices across Australia. Doing so has highlighted the many obstacles and barriers to the task of converting raw clinical notes into a format that can be readily queried and analysed. We developed NLP systems using rules-based algorithms and machine learning to automate the extraction of data describing the key elements to assess appropriate antimicrobial use. These included the clinical indication, antimicrobial agent selection, dose and duration of therapy. Our methods were applied to over 4.4 million companion animal clinical records across Australia on all consultations with antimicrobial use to help us understand what antibiotics are being given and why on a population level. Of these, approximately only 40% recorded the reason why antimicrobials were prescribed, along with the dose and duration of treatment. NLP and deep learning might be able to overcome the difficulties of harvesting free text data from clinical records, but when the essential data are not recorded in the clinical records, then, this becomes an insurmountable obstacle.
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Hur, B, Ly Hardefeldt, K Verspoor, T Baldwin, and Jr Gilkerson. “Overcoming Challenges in Extracting Prescribing Habits from Veterinary Clinics Using Big Data and Deep Learning.” Australian Veterinary Journal n/a, no. n/a. 25 January 2022. https://doi.org/10.1111/avj.13145.
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