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“It's easy to appreciate just how important the right treatment is.” 

Gerhard Mulder - Medical Data Research Coördinator

 

Learning to understand what a patient means

‘The search engine makes it increasingly easier for doctors and patients to find what they're looking for. We use smart algorithms to translate medical terminology into a language that patients can recognize. To do this, you need to understand how patients talk and look things up. They speak 'normal human language,' not medical jargon. They say, 'I have a headache' or 'I'm tired.' A patient could also be thinking about something completely different than the meaning the search engine gives to a query. Someone with sickle cell disease might see SCD among the results and think, 'That concerns me.' But SCD can also mean 'sudden cardiac death' - a heart attack.’

 

Linking search terms to the right information

‘The search engine must therefore learn to understand what a patient or doctor means and find the right information for it. This is where my broad medical background comes into play. I advise the medical and technical teams in developing and designing the website and the search engine, and I also check whether the results are appropriate. I give a 'thumbs up' to let the search engine know when a result is correct and a 'thumbs down' when it is incorrect; for instance, if the search term 'liver cancer' yields results on pancreatic cancer research. Slowly but surely, the system learns which connections it should or shouldn't make.’

‘In addition to human assessment, we use artificial intelligence to link medical texts and search terms correctly. The system itself thus seeks connections and becomes increasingly smarter. The distance between terms in a piece of text says a lot about their relationship. For instance, if the term 'fever' is close to the term 'high blood pressure,' there's a good chance they are correlated. We also want to make better use of context when it comes to a patient's query. The same term can mean something different for different people. With my medical background, I would say, for example, that an API is an 'active pharmaceutical ingredient.' But the younger tech team here at the office recognizes it as an 'application programming interface.' The more you know about a patient, the better you can predict what the term means to someone.’

Continuous development

‘The search engine is therefore subject to continuous development. Our deepest wish is to help patients the best we can, for example by helping a patient find comprehensible information about possible forms of treatment. The ultimate outcome is obviously when the same patient gains access to an Expanded Access Program or Clinical Trial through us. We all have a family member or acquaintance with a serious illness, for that reason it's easy to imagine how important the right treatment is.'

myTomorrows helps patients who have exhausted their regular treatment options. There may be a suitable treatment option that is in development. Read more and make an appointment with our medical team.

 

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