Semantic Hub: Reaching out to challenging patient segments with multilingual NLP
Founder and CEO of the Semantic Hub Company, Dr. Irina Efimenko is a PhD holder and an Associate Professor in computational linguistics with 20 years of experience in AI and NLP. She also comes with a proven knowledge in Big Data and decision support systems with emphasis on pharma and healthcare. Semantic Hub helps multinational pharmaceutical and biotech companies gain deeper understanding and improving the journey of patients suffering from severe diseases, including early detection of undiagnosed patients and at-risk groups, finding patients for Clinical trials etc. In an interview, she speaks on an array of topics. Excerpts:
Conception of Semantic Hub
“There lays an obvious factor behind the conception of Semantic Hub – but obvious things are often overlooked. Patients and healthcare professionals speak very different languages. That is why, despite the huge and truly valuable efforts of the academy, industry, and healthcare practitioners, the voice of patients and their caregivers often remains unheard and their needs unmet, especially when such needs are not limited to purely medical aspects.” Adds Dr. Efimenko that this is especially true for severe, including rare diseases. “That is why we decided to create the AI that does not just process unstructured information in natural language, but “translates” from the patient language into the clinical one and is able to work with any language of the world. Multilingualism, in every sense of the word, is a key feature of our platform, which helps us successfully work in 50+ countries and with 70+ indications supporting 20+ global partners in serving their patients.”
Healthcare industry – challenges galore
One of the key uptrends, which is still far from maturity, is related to the changing role of patients, observes Dr. Efimenko. “They are no longer just objects of care but become gradually recognized as key stakeholders in the healthcare system. Being patient is not only about having a disease and looking for treatment. It’s about self-perception, profession, having hobbies, relationships, family, beliefs, playing various socio-economic roles, etc.”
Noting that the pandemic has led to an increase in the digitalization of all areas of our life, including healthcare, this practitioner says that as a result, huge amounts of data have emerged including what we call “Patient Voice”: millions of real patient stories on Web 2.0. Intelligent processing of such data will allow us to minimize existing bias in the healthcare-related decision making, to gather patient-reported outcomes, to generate valuable insights on what innovative treatment options patients are ready to fight for.
Semantic Hub – leveraging multi-dimensional patientcare
Nowadays, the AI can help you see the complete palette of human experiences, but of course only if it’s intelligent enough and if it’s trained on representative non-biased samples. Luckily, there is a database with more than 5 billion people who frankly discuss what really concerns them including their patient experience – the web. It’s a very challenging source of data for AI, since “Patient Voice” is highly unstructured. Simplistic NLP techniques are unable to provide meaningful and reliable results here. However, with deep semantic analysis, you may reach out to any challenging patient segments to deeper understand the burden of a disease and patients’ expectations as a basis for a successful launch of innovative treatments, to detect undiagnosed patients with rare disorders and navigate them to diagnostics and then eventually therapy, to find patients for clinical trials and to solve many other tasks which, after all, will bridge the gap between patients and professionals.”
Semantic Hub team says our DNA is based on “human-centricity” which goes beyond classic team building and comes closer to “family team building” bringing together people with totally different backgrounds and cultural experiences. Our experience exchange goes far beyond our working life.
“Startups are all about never losing your passion, curiosity and perfectionism, being patient, flexible and open-minded. It is also about constantly learning from your mistakes and turning them into strengths. But above all this, each startup should first discover unmet needs, existing pains as a starting point of its journey and strive to always look at what its team does through that prism, through the eyes of its users, its clients. At the same time, in healthcare, you should never underestimate the general complexity of the system.”