Testing contextualized word embeddings to improve NER in spanish clinical case narratives Articles uri icon

publication date

  • August 2020

start page

  • 164717

end page

  • 164726


  • 8

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2169-3536

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2169-3536


  • In the Big Data era, there is an increasing need to fully exploit and analyze the huge quantity of information available about health. Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies can contribute by extracting relevant information from unstructured data contained in Electronic Health Records (EHR) such as clinical notes, patients' discharge summaries and radiology reports. The extracted information can help in health-related decision making processes. The Named Entity Recognition (NER) task, which detects important concepts in texts (e.g., diseases, symptoms, drugs, etc.), is crucial in the information extraction process yet has received little attention in languages other than English. In this work, we develop a deep learning-based NLP pipeline for biomedical entity extraction in Spanish clinical narratives. We explore the use of contextualized word embeddings, which incorporate context variation into word representations, to enhance named entity recognition in Spanish language clinical text, particularly of pharmacological substances, compounds, and proteins. Various combinations of word and sense embeddings were tested on the evaluation corpus of the PharmacoNER 2019 task, the Spanish Clinical Case Corpus (SPACCC). This data set consists of clinical case sections extracted from open access Spanish-language medical publications. Our study shows that our deep-learning-based system with domain-specific contextualized embeddings coupled with stacking of complementary embeddings yields superior performance over a system with integrated standard and general-domain word embeddings. With this system, we achieve performance competitive with the state-of-the-art.


  • Computer Science
  • Robotics and Industrial Informatics


  • clinical case narratives; contextualized word embeddings; deep learning; language representations; named entity recognition; natural language processing; spanish language