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Overview of the TREC 2012 Medical Records Track



Ellen M. Voorhees, William Hersh


The TREC Medical Records track fosters research that allows electronic health records to be retrieved based on the semantic content of free-text fields. The ability to find records by matching semantic content will enhance clinical care and support the secondary use of medical records in clinical trials and epidemiological studies. TREC 2012 is the sophomore year of the track, which attracted 24 participating reserach groups. The track repeated the cohort-finding task from its initial year. This task is an ad hoc search task in which systems search a set of de-identified clinical reports to identify cohorts for (hypothetical) clinical studies. A topic statement for the task describes the criteria for inclusion in a study, and a system returns a list of "visits" ordered by the likelihood that the inclusion criteria are satisfied. Physicians created fifty topics and performed relevance judgments for the track. Top-performing groups each used some sort of vocabulary normalization device specific to the medical domain, supporting the hypothesis that language use within electronic health records is sufficiently different from general use to warrant domain-specific processing. Such devices must be used carefully, however, as multiple groups also demonstrated that aggressive use harms baseline performance. Exploiting human expertise through manual query construction proved most effective.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 500-298
Report Number


electronic health records, information retrieval, TREC


Voorhees, E. and Hersh, W. (2013), Overview of the TREC 2012 Medical Records Track, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 19, 2024)
Created June 28, 2013, Updated February 19, 2017