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Development and Evaluation of an Automated Machine Learning Algorithm for In-Hospital Mortality Risk Adjustment Among Critical Care Patients*

Delahanty, Ryan, J., PhD1; Kaufman, David, MD, FCCM2; Jones, Spencer, S., PhD1

doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000003011
Online Clinical Investigations
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Objectives: Risk adjustment algorithms for ICU mortality are necessary for measuring and improving ICU performance. Existing risk adjustment algorithms are not widely adopted. Key barriers to adoption include licensing and implementation costs as well as labor costs associated with human-intensive data collection. Widespread adoption of electronic health records makes automated risk adjustment feasible. Using modern machine learning methods and open source tools, we developed and evaluated a retrospective risk adjustment algorithm for in-hospital mortality among ICU patients. The Risk of Inpatient Death score can be fully automated and is reliant upon data elements that are generated in the course of usual hospital processes.

Setting: One hundred thirty-one ICUs in 53 hospitals operated by Tenet Healthcare.

Patients: A cohort of 237,173 ICU patients discharged between January 2014 and December 2016.

Design: The data were randomly split into training (36 hospitals), and validation (17 hospitals) data sets. Feature selection and model training were carried out using the training set while the discrimination, calibration, and accuracy of the model were assessed in the validation data set.

Measurements and Main Results: Model discrimination was evaluated based on the area under receiver operating characteristic curve; accuracy and calibration were assessed via adjusted Brier scores and visual analysis of calibration curves. Seventeen features, including a mix of clinical and administrative data elements, were retained in the final model. The Risk of Inpatient Death score demonstrated excellent discrimination (area under receiver operating characteristic curve = 0.94) and calibration (adjusted Brier score = 52.8%) in the validation dataset; these results compare favorably to the published performance statistics for the most commonly used mortality risk adjustment algorithms.

Conclusions: Low adoption of ICU mortality risk adjustment algorithms impedes progress toward increasing the value of the healthcare delivered in ICUs. The Risk of Inpatient Death score has many attractive attributes that address the key barriers to adoption of ICU risk adjustment algorithms and performs comparably to existing human-intensive algorithms. Automated risk adjustment algorithms have the potential to obviate known barriers to adoption such as cost-prohibitive licensing fees and significant direct labor costs. Further evaluation is needed to ensure that the level of performance observed in this study could be achieved at independent sites.

1Tenet Healthcare, Nashville, TN.

2The Intensivist Group/Sound Physicians, Tacoma, WA.

*See also p. 1024.

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Dr. Kaufman received funding from Alesky Belcher LLC, and he has consulting agreements with Intensix Inc, Natanya, Israel, and Advanced ICU, St. Louis, MO (no financial payments received from either in the past 36 mo). The remaining authors have disclosed that they do not have any potential conflicts of interest.

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