AI

A Hierarchical Attention Retrieval Model for Healthcare Question Answering

Abstract

The growth of the Web in recent years has resulted in the development of various online platforms that provide healthcare information services. These platforms contain an enormous amount of information, which could be beneficial for a large number of people. However, navigating through such knowledgebases to answer specific queries of healthcare consumers is a challenging task. A majority of such queries might be non-factoid in nature, and hence, traditional keyword-based retrieval models do not work well for such cases. Furthermore, in many scenarios, it might be desirable to get a short answer that sufficiently answers the query, instead of a long document with only a small amount of useful information. In this paper, we propose a neural network model for ranking documents for question answering in the healthcare domain. The proposed model uses a deep attention mechanism at word, sentence, and document levels, for efficient retrieval for both factoid and non-factoid queries, on documents of varied lengths. Specifically, the word-level cross-attention allows the model to identify words that might be most relevant for a query, and the hierarchical attention at sentence and document levels allows it to do effective retrieval on both long and short documents. We also construct a new large-scale healthcare question-answering dataset, which we use to evaluate our model. Experimental evaluation results against several state-of-the-art baselines show that our model outperforms the existing retrieval techniques.