16 April 2021
Asthma affects a large proportion of the population and leads to many hospital encounters involving both hospitalizations and emergency department visits every year. To lower the number of such encounters, many health care systems and health plans deploy predictive models to prospectively identify patients at high risk and offer them care management services for preventive care. However, the previous models do not have sufficient accuracy for serving this purpose well. Embracing the modeling strategy of examining many candidate features, we built a new machine learning model to forecast future asthma hospital encounters of patients with asthma at Intermountain Healthcare, a nonacademic health care system. This model is more accurate than the previously published models. However, it is unclear how well our modeling strategy generalizes to academic health care systems, whose patient composition differs from that of Intermountain Healthcare.
This study aims to evaluate the generalizability of our modeling strategy to the University of Washington Medicine (UWM), an academic health care system.
All adult patients with asthma who visited UWM facilities between 2011 and 2018 served as the patient cohort. We considered 234 candidate features. Through a secondary analysis of 82,888 UWM data instances from 2011 to 2018, we built a machine learning model to forecast asthma hospital encounters of patients with asthma in the subsequent 12 months.
Our UWM model yielded an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.902. When placing the cutoff point for making binary classification at the top 10% (1464/14,644) of patients with asthma with the largest forecasted risk, our UWM model yielded an accuracy of 90.6% (13,268/14,644), a sensitivity of 70.2% (153/218), and a specificity of 90.91% (13,115/14,426).
Our modeling strategy showed excellent generalizability to the UWM, leading to a model with an AUC that is higher than all of the AUCs previously reported in the literature for forecasting asthma hospital encounters. After further optimization, our model could be used to facilitate the efficient and effective allocation of asthma care management resources to improve outcomes.