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March 26, 2010

SIU Med School Receives NIH Grant to Study Electronic Health Records

A medical educator at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield has been awarded a two-year federal grant from the National Library of Medicine for the study of language characteristics of electronic records.  The grant is a subcontract through the University of Memphis and is a National Institutes of Health Challenge Grant awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. SIU’s portion has a total budget of $415,900.

Linda Morrison, director of clinical assessments in the medical education department at SIU, is the co-principal investigator for the project.  Max M. Louwerse, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at the Institute for Intelligent Systems of the University of Memphis, is the principal investigator.  Other SIU faculty working on the project are Timothy Koschmann, Ph.D., associate professor of medical education; Dr. Erica Nelson, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology; Dr. Lauri Lopp, assistant professor of family and community medicine; Dr. Tracy Lower, associate professor of pediatrics; and Dr. David Resch, professor of internal medicine/psychiatry.

Narrative information about a patient’s health makes up much of the data that is documented during office visits.  The study will analyze chart notes collected from standardized patient exams to determine what language features contribute to note quality and accuracy.  Four language models that cover general linguistic features will be used to analyze these chart notes.  These include cohesion and readability, personality and psychological features, and subjectivity of text.  Study findings could have a significant impact on the future development of electronic health records and the quality of electronic chart notes, leading to better health care for patients.

Morrison joined SIU in 1988.   She earned her master’s degree in social work
and bachelor’s in social welfare from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1978, 1974).