OBJECTIVE - To develop a comprehensive temporal information extraction system that can identify events, temporal expressions, and their temporal relations in clinical text. This project was part of the 2012 i2b2 clinical natural language processing (NLP) challenge on temporal information extraction.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - The 2012 i2b2 NLP challenge organizers manually annotated 310 clinic notes according to a defined annotation guideline: a training set of 190 notes and a test set of 120 notes. All participating systems were developed on the training set and evaluated on the test set. Our system consists of three modules: event extraction, temporal expression extraction, and temporal relation (also called Temporal Link, or 'TLink') extraction. The TLink extraction module contains three individual classifiers for TLinks: (1) between events and section times, (2) within a sentence, and (3) across different sentences. The performance of our system was evaluated using scripts provided by the i2b2 organizers. Primary measures were micro-averaged Precision, Recall, and F-measure.
RESULTS - Our system was among the top ranked. It achieved F-measures of 0.8659 for temporal expression extraction (ranked fourth), 0.6278 for end-to-end TLink track (ranked first), and 0.6932 for TLink-only track (ranked first) in the challenge. We subsequently investigated different strategies for TLink extraction, and were able to marginally improve performance with an F-measure of 0.6943 for TLink-only track.