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August 2017 - Issue 11
Welcome to the Battelle Health & Analytics, a quarterly publication from Battelle. We put this together as a service to our public health clients, to keep you informed of the latest public health news from our researchers and the industry.
The Battelle Health & Analytics team works with agencies and healthcare institutions to advance public health research, practice and policy with the latest science and technology. Battelle Health and Analytics will keep you up-to-date on cutting edge research and public health innovations.
Seniors face increasing challenges to mobility as they age. But a little advance planning can go a long way toward helping older adults stay independent and improving their quality of life. Battelle’s Aging & Gerontology team worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate a mobility planning tool aimed at helping seniors prepare for the future. Most people will eventually face some form of mobility challenge as they age, whether it is a physical problem that makes walking difficult or changes in vision or cognition that limit driving. However, planning for these changes can help seniors maintain mobility for as long as possible and remain active in their communities.
The mobility planning tool addresses three key aspects of mobility:
Self: the ability to perform activities of daily living
Home: the ability to safely navigate the home environment
Community: the ability to go where you need to go outside the home
The four-page planning tool is designed to help seniors take actionable steps to preserve their health and mobility, reduce the risk of mobility-impairing accidents, and identify outside resources that could allow them to remain independent longer. For example:
Starting a physical activity regimen to maintain strength, balance and flexibility
Making changes in the home to reduce trip-and-fall hazards or make commonly needed items more accessible
Looking into transportation resources that will be available if driving is restricted
Battelle conducted an efficacy study to determine whether the planning tool increased the intention to take mobility-protective actions and plan for future mobility challenges among seniors between the ages of 60 and 74. Taking steps to preserve mobility at this age can significantly increase the length of time that people are able to take care of themselves independently, remain in their homes and stay active in their communities.
With one in four U.S. residents projected to be over 65 by 2060, research into aging and mobility is of critical importance. Researchers at Battelle are working on a number of projects to help older adults stay healthy, independent and happy. In addition to their work on the mobility planning tool, the Battelle Aging and Gerontology team is tackling challenges ranging from smart transportation solutions for an older population to the development of healthcare quality measures for elderly patients.
To read more about the mobility planning tool and the results of Battelle’s efficacy study, download the full case study here.
The pace of publication for new biomedical research makes it impossible for humans to keep up. Advanced algorithms using machine learning and natural language processing can help.
In 2016 alone, more than 1.2 million new citations were added to PubMed®, bringing the total number of citations to more than 27 million. While it would take many lifetimes for human readers to get through it all, computer algorithms can quickly sort through large scientific corpora.
People already rely on search engines to help them find information. However, these simple programs use keywords to return search results—they do not “read” and “understand” the content of the publications they are searching. The most relevant information is often buried deep within the search results.
Battelle Sematrix™ is different. It uses natural language processing and machine learning to extract meaning from unstructured sources and documents written in natural (human) language, such as scientific papers. Using ontology-based categories and axioms, it is able to construct a knowledgebase that enables it to draw meaning out of the documents it “reads.” An inference layer allows it to make connections between knowledge from different sources: e.g., if one document says A=B, and another says B=C, it can infer that A must also equal C.
Using these methods, Sematrix can vastly reduce the time and effort required to review scientific literature, identify the most relevant citations for a specific research question, and find hidden connections between different studies or data sets.
Researchers at Battelle have already applied Sematrix to a number of knowledge management problems, including mining PubMed and other large corpora of scientific documents to find relevant research for development of new healthcare quality measures for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Sorting through published research for measure development can take hundreds of hours per measure for human readers. Sematrix quickly identifies the most relevant documents, extracts the information needed to support measure development, and puts the information into a format that human measure developers can use. This could ultimately reduce the time it takes to develop a new healthcare quality measure from months or years to weeks or even days.
To learn more about how Sematrix works and how it is being used, download the full white paper here.
Invasive cervical cancer is largely preventable through vaccination and timely screening and intervention. Why are 4,000 women in the U.S. still dying from the disease annually?
A Battelle study seeks to find the answers by looking at the use of preventive screenings and treatment in women in the years before the diagnosis. Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the study is the first of its kind to use a population-based sample of cervical cancer survivors to (a) apply chart abstraction to compile historical health data, and (b) to survey women about the barriers they might have experienced in obtaining care. The goal is to identify missed opportunities for screening and treatment and inform the development of public health programs to help close these gaps.
The Case Investigation of Cervical Cancer (CICC) Study, which is now in its preliminary phases, is a partnership between Battelle, CDC, the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the State University of New Jersey, Newark. It will use data from three population-based central cancer registries: the Louisiana Tumor Registry, the Michigan Cancer Surveillance Program and the New Jersey State Cancer Registry. The registries identified 1,670 women who were diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer in 2014–2016.
Researchers are currently enrolling eligible women in the study and beginning data collection. Chart abstraction will be used to extract data directly from patient medical charts for the five years prior to their diagnosis, including screening history, follow up of abnormal results and any additional information related to the initial cancer diagnosis and screening. Participating survivors will also be asked to complete a mail survey and telephone follow-up to elicit information on barriers and facilitators to screening and care.
Chart abstraction provides more thorough and accurate information on health behaviors, care received and diagnoses than is possible to get from self-reported information alone.
April Greek, the Battelle Project Leader for the study, explains, “information women have about their own care isn’t always accurate. They may misremember dates or not understand what types of tests were actually performed during an exam. Going directly to the medical charts provides a much clearer picture of timelines, care received and diagnostic information.”
Medical record abstraction is used by central cancer registries to track treatments, patient adherence and health outcomes after a diagnosis. It is believed that this is the first study of cervical cancer to use population-based cancer registries to perform chart abstraction that looks backwards at healthcare provided in the years prior to a diagnosis. Findings from the study will provide important information about barriers to screening and care and related medical issues that could inform future prevention programs. Researchers from Battelle and other study partners presented the study methods at the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) Annual Conference in June 2017.
The CICC Study builds on Battelle’s earlier work for the CDC’s Cervical Cancer (Cx3) Study. This study evaluated the effectiveness of an educational intervention to increase cervical cancer screening intervals with the HPV and Pap co-test and investigated patient and provider knowledge, beliefs and behaviors around cervical cancer screening. Battelle assisted with study design, data collection, statistical analysis and reporting.
Battelle has a long history of research on cervical cancer as well as other gynecological cancers. In addition to the Cx3 and CICC studies, Battelle also worked with the CDC on two studies to monitor the impact of a prophylactic HPV vaccine on HPV-associated cancers. These studies use genotyping data extracted from tissues collected by cancer registries to provide surveillance information that can be used to determine the impact of HPV vaccines on HPV-related cancers resulting from different strains of HPV. The pilot study was conducted on cancers before the HPV vaccine was introduced, and the current study is working with cancers that were diagnosed after the HPV vaccine. Battelle also conducted an impact study of the Inside Knowledge public health campaign, a CDC initiative aimed at increasing awareness of gynecological cancers among women ages 40–60.
Work on the CICC study is still in the beginning phases. Over the next 12 months, researchers will collect and analyze data from patient medical records and surveys. Results of the study are anticipated to be released in the fall of 2018.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the growing aging population? Check out our new infographic to get the details. Read More