A hybrid medical text classification framework: Integrating attentive rule construction and neural network

Xiang Li, Menglin Cui, Jingpeng Li, Ruibin Bai, Zheng Lu, Uwe Aickelin

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


The main objective of this work is to improve the quality and transparency of the medical text classification solutions. Conventional text classification methods provide users with only a restricted mechanism (based on frequency) for selecting features. In this paper, a three-stage hybrid method combining the gated attention-based bi-directional Long Short-Term Memory (ABLSTM) and the regular expression based classifier is proposed for medical text classification tasks. The bi-directional Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) architecture with an attention layer allows the network to weigh words according to their perceived importance and focus on crucial parts of a sentence. Feature words (or keywords) extracted by ABLSTM model are utilized to guide the regular expression rule construction. Our proposed approach leverages the advantages of both the interpretability of rule-based algorithms and the computational power of deep learning approaches for a production-ready scenario. Experimental results on real-world medical online query data clearly validate the superiority of our system in selecting domain-specific and topic-related features. Results show that the proposed approach achieves an accuracy of 0.89 and an F1-score of 0.92 respectively. Furthermore, our experimentation also illustrates the versatility of regular expressions as a user-level tool for focusing on desired patterns and providing interpretable solutions for human modification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-355
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2021


  • Attention mechanism
  • Deep learning
  • Hybrid system
  • Text classification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


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