Machine learning approaches for predicting disposition of asthma and COPD exacerbations in the ED



      The prediction of emergency department (ED) disposition at triage remains challenging. Machine learning approaches may enhance prediction. We compared the performance of several machine learning approaches for predicting two clinical outcomes (critical care and hospitalization) among ED patients with asthma or COPD exacerbation.


      Using the 2007–2015 National Hospital and Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) ED data, we identified adults with asthma or COPD exacerbation. In the training set (70% random sample), using routinely-available triage data as predictors (e.g., demographics, arrival mode, vital signs, chief complaint, comorbidities), we derived four machine learning-based models: Lasso regression, random forest, boosting, and deep neural network. In the test set (the remaining 30% of sample), we compared their prediction ability against traditional logistic regression with Emergency Severity Index (ESI, reference model).


      Of 3206 eligible ED visits, corresponding to weighted estimates of 13.9 million visits, 4% had critical care outcome and 26% had hospitalization outcome. For the critical care prediction, the best performing approach– boosting – achieved the highest discriminative ability (C-statistics 0.80 vs. 0.68), reclassification improvement (net reclassification improvement [NRI] 53%, P = 0.002), and sensitivity (0.79 vs. 0.53) over the reference model. For the hospitalization prediction, random forest provided the highest discriminative ability (C-statistics 0.83 vs. 0.64) reclassification improvement (NRI 92%, P < 0.001), and sensitivity (0.75 vs. 0.33). Results were generally consistent across the asthma and COPD subgroups.


      Based on nationally-representative ED data, machine learning approaches improved the ability to predict disposition of patients with asthma or COPD exacerbation.


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