Physician's Information Customizer (PIC): Using a Shareable User Model to Filter the Medical Literature

Reference: Pratt, W. & Sim, I. Physician's Information Customizer (PIC): Using a Shareable User Model to Filter the Medical Literature. Knowledge Systems Laboratory, Medical Computer Science, August, 1994.

Abstract: The practice of medicine is information-intensive. From reviewing the literature to formulating therapeutic plans, each physician handles information differently. Yet rarely does a representation of the user's information needs and preferences, a user model, get incorporated into information management tools even though we might reasonably expect better acceptance and effectiveness if the tools' presentation and processing were customized to the user. We developed the Physician's Information Customizer (PIC), which generates a shareable user model that can be used in any medical information-management application. PIC elicits the stable, long-term attributes of a physician through simple questions about his/her specialty, research focus, areas of interest, patient characteristics (e.g. ages), and practice locale. To show the utility of this user model in customizing a medical informatics application, PIC custom-filters and ranks articles from Medline, using the user model to determine what would be most interesting to the user. Preliminary evaluation on all 99 unselected articles from a recent issue of six prominent medical journals shows that PIC ranks 66% of the articles as the user would. This demonstrates the feasibility of using easily acquired physician attributes to develop a user model that can successfully filter articles of interest from a large undifferentiated collection. Further testing and development is required to optimize the custom filter and to determine which characteristics should be included in the shareable user model and which should be obtained by individual applications.

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