News
September 2, 2020

Using machine learning to identify patients’ COVID-19 social risks

Regenstrief, IU team developing technologies to analyze social determinants of health

COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting minorities, and experts believe many of the disparities are driven by underlying social risk factors, such as socioeconomic status or access to healthcare.

A team of Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI researchers, led by Joshua Vest, PhD, MPH, are developing and evaluating technologies to help organizations better identify which patients have social risk factors. The system they are creating uses natural language processing to read clinical notes in the electronic health records.

Dr. Vest is a Regenstrief research scientist as well as a professor at the Fairbanks School of Public Health. Collaborators from Regenstrief include Vice President for Research Development Eneida Mendonca, M.D., PhD; Research Scientist Suranga Kasthurirathne, PhD; and Katie Allen, the program manager for Regenstrief Data Services.

Drs. Vest and Kasthurirathne have already been working on a machine learning application that helps clinicians identify patients with needs related to social determinants of health. The app, called Uppstroms, is currently in use at nine Eskenazi Health primary care clinics.

The COVID-19 project is one of 17 IUPUI projects to receive funding as part of the OVCR COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Program.

Read more about the research

About Joshua Vest, PhD, MPH

In addition to his roles as Regenstrief research scientist and Fairbanks School of Public Health professor, Dr. Vest is also the director of the Center for Health Policy at the Fairbanks School of Public Health.

About Eneida Mendonca, M.D., PhD

In addition to serving as vice president for research development and as a research scientist at Regenstrief Institute, Eneida Mendonca, M.D., PhD, is a professor of pediatrics and professor of biostatistics at Indiana University School of Medicine. She is currently interim director of the Clem McDonald Center for Biomedical Informatics at Regenstrief Institute.

About Suranga Kasthurirathne, PhD

In addition to being a research scientist at Regenstrief Institute, Suranga Kasthurirathne, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

  • Joshua Vest

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