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The progressive ageing in developed countries entails an increase in multimorbidity. Population-wide predictive models for adverse health outcomes are crucial to address these growing healthcare needs. The main objective of this study is to develop and validate a population-based prognostic model to predict the probability of unplanned hospitalization in the Basque Country, through comparing the performance of a logistic regression model and three families of machine learning models.
Using age, sex, diagnoses and drug prescriptions previously transformed by the Johns Hopkins Adjusted Clinical Groups (ACG) System, we predict the probability of unplanned hospitalization in the Basque Country (2.2 million inhabitants) using several techniques. When dealing with non-deterministic algorithms, comparing a single model per technique is not enough to choose the best approach. Thus, we conduct 40 experiments per family of models – Random Forest, Gradient Boosting Decision Trees and Multilayer Perceptrons – and compare them to Logistic Regression. Models’ performance are compared both population-wide and for the 20,000 patients with the highest predicted probabilities, as a hypothetical high-risk group to intervene on.
The best-performing technique is Multilayer Perceptron, followed by Gradient Boosting Decision Trees, Logistic Regression and Random Forest. Multilayer Perceptrons also have the lowest variability, around an order of magnitude less than Random Forests. Median area under the ROC curve, average precision and positive predictive value range from 0.789 to 0.802, 0.237 to 0.257 and 0.485 to 0.511, respectively. For Brier Score the median values are 0.048 for all techniques. There is some overlap between the algorithms. For instance, Gradient Boosting Decision Trees perform better than Logistic Regression more than 75% of the time, but not always.
All models have good global performance. The only family that is consistently superior to Logistic Regression is Multilayer Perceptron, showing a very reliable performance with the lowest variability.
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