Clinical letters turned into data for multiple sclerosis database

The Multiple Sclerosis Society has funded the development of technology to turn written language in patient letters into data to create a unique multiple sclerosis database.

Hoped to support researchers and healthcare professionals, the tech was first piloted in 2018. To date it has been used to turn 400 letters into data as part of the UK MS Register.

The MS Society has now committed to raise £2 million over the next five years, to support the roll out of the tool to 45 of its partner hospitals and expand the tech to capture more complex health information, such as people’s MS symptoms and social care information.

Said to take seconds to capture data, the MS Society notes the tool has achieved 98% accuracy to capture data on the type of MS, treatment and level of disability within written notes.

Rod Middleton, system architect, MS researcher and new principal investigator of the UK MS Register, said: “The ability to take unstructured clinical data in the form of letters and rapidly turn it into research level data could represent a sea-change in the way that the NHS and researchers capture data and use data. It could allow for more pertinent clinical decision making and even potentially more time spent caring for people rather than carrying out admin.” 

Dr Emma Gray, Assistant Director of Research at the MS Society, added: “We’re delighted to have committed to raising an additional £2 million for the UK MS Register, and are excited to see how it will evolve using more innovative technology, like artificial intelligence. More than 130,000 people live with MS in the UK and real-world data from this highly unique registry has been improving our understanding of the condition for over a decade.”

To find out more on the register, please click here.