Validation of Prediction Models for Critical Care Outcomes Using Natural Language Processing of Electronic Health Record Data

Ben J. Marafino, Miran Park, Jason M. Davies, Robert Thombley, Harold S. Luft, David C. Sing, Dhruv S. Kazi, Colette DeJong, W. John Boscardin, Mitzi L. Dean, R. Adams Dudley

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Importance: Accurate prediction of outcomes among patients in intensive care units (ICUs) is important for clinical research and monitoring care quality. Most existing prediction models do not take full advantage of the electronic health record, using only the single worst value of laboratory tests and vital signs and largely ignoring information present in free-text notes. Whether capturing more of the available data and applying machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) can improve and automate the prediction of outcomes among patients in the ICU remains unknown. Objectives: To evaluate the change in power for a mortality prediction model among patients in the ICU achieved by incorporating measures of clinical trajectory together with NLP of clinical text and to assess the generalizability of this approach. Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective cohort study included 101 196 patients with a first-time admission to the ICU and a length of stay of at least 4 hours. Twenty ICUs at 2 academic medical centers (University of California, San Francisco [UCSF], and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center [BIDMC], Boston, Massachusetts) and 1 community hospital (Mills-Peninsula Medical Center [MPMC], Burlingame, California) contributed data from January 1, 2001, through June 1, 2017. Data were analyzed from July 1, 2017, through August 1, 2018. Main Outcomes and Measures: In-hospital mortality and model discrimination as assessed by the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) and model calibration as assessed by the modified Hosmer-Lemeshow statistic. Results: Among 101 196 patients included in the analysis, 51.3% (n = 51 899) were male, with a mean (SD) age of 61.3 (17.1) years; their in-hospital mortality rate was 10.4% (n = 10 505). A baseline model using only the highest and lowest observed values for each laboratory test result or vital sign achieved a cross-validated AUC of 0.831 (95% CI, 0.830-0.832). In contrast, that model augmented with measures of clinical trajectory achieved an AUC of 0.899 (95% CI, 0.896-0.902; P < .001 for AUC difference). Further augmenting this model with NLP-derived terms associated with mortality further increased the AUC to 0.922 (95% CI, 0.916-0.924; P < .001). These NLP-derived terms were associated with improved model performance even when applied across sites (AUC difference for UCSF: 0.077 to 0.021; AUC difference for MPMC: 0.071 to 0.051; AUC difference for BIDMC: 0.035 to 0.043; P < .001) when augmenting with NLP at each site. Conclusions and Relevance: Intensive care unit mortality prediction models incorporating measures of clinical trajectory and NLP-derived terms yielded excellent predictive performance and generalized well in this sample of hospitals. The role of these automated algorithms, particularly those using unstructured data from notes and other sources, in clinical research and quality improvement seems to merit additional investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e185097
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 7 2018


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