Shairi Turner on Language, Data, and Saving Lives (TIPS 2018)

Part of panel on Harnessing Natural Language for Prediction and Prevention. These remarks were part of the 2018 Technology in Psychiatry Summit, an event sponsored by the McLean Institute for Technology in Psychiatry, which occurred November 1-2, 2018 at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Themes/keywords: prediction and prevention using technology; natural language processing; linguistic predictors of mental health; mining electronic health records; translation of tools or methodologies between languages or cultural contexts.

Human communication is at the core of all clinical interactions, especially in psychiatry and psychology, since changes in social function and use of language are often among the first noticeable clues of an emerging psychiatric illness or impending episode. Systems that capture and analyze naturally occurring speech or written language could therefore have transformative potential to aid in low-burden mental health surveillance strategies to support individuals most at risk with both prediction and optimal prevention strategies. This session brings together experts in both computational aspects of natural language processing (NLP), and their deployment in a range of psychiatric illnesses and treatment contexts, including mining electronic medical records for risk stratification, analyzing text-based encounters with a crisis coach to optimize online therapeutic encounters, and predicting individual-level prognosis from open and directed samples of speech and writing.

Shairi Turner, MD, MPH, completed the Harvard Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Program and received her Master of Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Currently she is the chief medical officer for Crisis Text Line, a not-for-profit volunteer-supported organization delivering crisis interventions using a text platform. Before assuming her CMO role, Dr. Turner served as the deputy secretary for Health and the Director of the Office of Minority Health for the Florida Department of Health (DOH), prioritizing work around the intersection between trauma and chronic health conditions. She also served as the first chief medical director in the eleven-year history of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), in which capacity she established the Office of Health Services that provided oversight of the provision of health, mental health, disability, and substance addiction services to nearly 100,000 justice-involved youth.

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