Although the transformation of unstructured data into structured data is a new concept in healthcare, there's a commercial website that illustrates its power - Tripit.com
TripIt, it is an itinerary consolidation and sharing tool that's very simple to use. You email any trip confirmations (air, car, hotel etc) to firstname.lastname@example.org and TripIt combines all of the elements into one itinerary. That itinerary can be then saved to your calendar, viewed on the web, accessed via mobile devices and shared with others.
There are three major functions – itinerary collation, itinerary management and itinerary sharing.
To test itinerary collation, I emailed an Expedia confirmation from an upcoming Alaska trip (I'm keynoting a HIMSS event in Anchorage in June then climbing for a few days). The free text was transformed perfectly into the structured data shown in the graphic above, including automatic weather and map information. There's an iPhone, Android and Blackberry app to access this structured data via mobile devices. The iPhone app worked perfectly.
I use Apple Mail and by simply clicking on the calendar integration feature of Tripit, my full itinerary was automatically added to my calendar
I shared my itinerary with my wife by inviting her to join Tripit via her gmail account. I also added my Tripit itinerary to my Facebook wall.
A natural language processing application that turns unstructured confirmation emails into web, mobile and social networking accessible structured data. That's cool!