A Benchmark of Domain-Adapted Large Language Models for Generating Brief Hospital Course Summaries

Brief hospital course (BHC) summaries are common clinical documents generated by summarizing clinical notes. While large language models (LLMs) depict remarkable capabilities in automating real-world tasks, their capabilities for healthcare applications such as BHC synthesis have not been shown. To enable the adaptation of LLMs for BHC synthesis, we introduce a novel benchmark consisting of a pre-processed dataset extracted from MIMIC-IV notes, encapsulating clinical note, and brief hospital course (BHC) pairs. We assess the performance of two general-purpose LLMs and three healthcare-adapted LLMs to improve BHC synthesis from clinical notes. Using clinical notes as input for generating BHCs, we apply prompting-based (using in-context learning) and fine-tuning-based adaptation strategies to three open-source LLMs (Clinical-T5-Large, Llama2-13B, FLAN-UL2) and two proprietary LLMs (GPT-3.5, GPT-4). We quantitatively evaluate the performance of these LLMs across varying context-length inputs using conventional natural language similarity metrics. We further perform a qualitative study where five diverse clinicians blindly compare clinician-written BHCs and two LLM-generated BHCs for 30 samples across metrics of comprehensiveness, conciseness, factual correctness, and fluency. Overall, we present a new benchmark and pre-processed dataset for using LLMs in BHC synthesis from clinical notes. We observe high-quality summarization performance for both in-context proprietary and fine-tuned open-source LLMs using both quantitative metrics and a qualitative clinical reader study. We propose our work as a benchmark to motivate future works to adapt and assess the performance of LLMs in BHC synthesis.

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