Appl Clin Inform 2020; 11(02): 242-252
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1708049
Research Article
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Natural Language Processing to Extract Meaningful Information from Patient Experience Feedback

Khalid Nawab
1  Department of Medicine, Geisinger Holy Spirit Hospital, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, United States
Gretchen Ramsey
2  Patient Experience, Geisinger Holy Spirit Hospital, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, United States
Richard Schreiber
3  Physician Informatics and Department of Medicine, Geisinger Health System, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, United States
› Author Affiliations
Funding None.
Further Information

Publication History

05 November 2019

01 February 2020

Publication Date:
01 April 2020 (online)


Background Due to reimbursement tied in part to patients' perception of their care, hospitals continue to stress obtaining patient feedback and understanding it to plan interventions to improve patients' experience. We demonstrate the use of natural language processing (NLP) to extract meaningful information from patient feedback obtained through Press Ganey surveys.

Methods The first step was to standardize textual data programmatically using NLP libraries. This included correcting spelling mistakes, converting text to lowercase, and removing words that most likely did not carry useful information. Next, we converted numeric data pertaining to each category based on sentiment and care aspect into charts. We selected care aspect categories where there were more negative comments for more in-depth study. Using NLP, we made tables of most frequently appearing words, adjectives, and bigrams. Comments with frequent words/combinations underwent further study manually to understand factors contributing to negative patient feedback. We then used the positive and negative comments as the training dataset for a neural network to perform sentiment analysis on sentences obtained by splitting mixed reviews.

Results We found that most of the comments were about doctors and nurses, confirming the important role patients ascribed to these two in patient care. “Room,” “discharge” and “tests and treatments” were the three categories that had more negative than positive comments. We then tabulated commonly appearing words, adjectives, and two-word combinations. We found that climate control, housekeeping and noise levels in the room, time delays in discharge paperwork, conflicting information about discharge plan, frequent blood draws, and needle sticks were major contributors to negative patient feedback. None of this information was available from numeric data alone.

Conclusion NLP is an effective tool to gain insight from raw textual patient feedback to extract meaningful information, making it a powerful tool in processing large amounts of patient feedback efficiently.

Authors' Contributions

K.N. and G.R. conceived of and developed the project. G.R. provided and analyzed the Press Ganey data. K.N. performed the programming and analysis of the data and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. R.S. provided substantial support including encouragement to publish, as well as extensive writing and editing of the manuscript. All authors approved the final manuscript for submission.

Protection of Human and Animal Subjects

The Geisinger Health System Institutional Review Board ruled that this project was not subject to its oversight as the proposal is “research that does not involve human subjects” as defined in 45 CFR 46.102(f).