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arxiv preprint

The purpose of this study is to analyze the efficacy of transfer learning techniques and transformer-based models as applied to medical natural language processing (NLP) tasks, specifically radiological text classification. We used 1,977 labeled head CT reports, from a corpus of 96,303 total reports, to evaluate the efficacy of pretraining using general domain corpora and a combined general and medical domain corpus with a bidirectional representations from transformers (BERT) model for the purpose of radiological text classification. Model performance was benchmarked to a logistic regression using bag-of-words vectorization and a long short-term memory (LSTM) multi-label multi-class classification model, and compared to the published literature in medical text classification. The BERT models using either set of pretrained checkpoints outperformed the logistic regression model, achieving sample-weighted average F1-scores of 0.87 and 0.87 for the general domain model and the combined general and biomedical-domain model. General text transfer learning may be a viable technique to generate state-of-the-art results within medical NLP tasks on radiological corpora, outperforming other deep models such as LSTMs. The efficacy of pretraining and transformer-based models could serve to facilitate the creation of groundbreaking NLP models in the uniquely challenging data environment of medical text.

Daniel Ranti, Katie Hanss, Shan Zhao, Varun Arvind, Joseph Titano, Anthony Costa, Eric Oermann