Predicting emergency department orders with multilabel machine learning techniques and simulating effects on length of stay.

Document Type


Publication Date



Emergency Medicine, Nursing, Center for Performance Improvement

Journal Title

Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA

MeSH Headings

Length of Stay, Machine Learning, Emergency Service, Hospital, Records, Humans


OBJECTIVE: Emergency departments (EDs) continue to pursue optimal patient flow without sacrificing quality of care. The speed with which a healthcare provider receives pertinent information, such as results from clinical orders, can impact flow. We seek to determine if clinical ordering behavior can be predicted at triage during an ED visit.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Using data available during triage, we trained multilabel machine learning classifiers to predict clinical orders placed during an ED visit. We benchmarked 4 classifiers with 2 multilabel learning frameworks that predict orders independently (binary relevance) or simultaneously (random k-labelsets). We evaluated algorithm performance, calculated variable importance, and conducted a simple simulation study to examine the effects of algorithm implementation on length of stay and cost.

RESULTS: Aggregate performance across orders was highest when predicting orders independently with a multilayer perceptron (median F1 score = 0.56), but prediction frameworks that simultaneously predict orders for a visit enhanced predictive performance for correlated orders. Visit acuity was the most important predictor for most orders. Simulation results indicated that direct implementation of the model would increase ordering costs (from $21 to $45 per visit) but reduce length of stay (from 158 minutes to 151 minutes) over all visits.

DISCUSSION: Simulated implementations of the predictive algorithm decreased length of stay but increased ordering costs. Optimal implementation of these predictions to reduce patient length of stay without incurring additional costs requires more exploration.

CONCLUSIONS: It is possible to predict common clinical orders placed during an ED visit with data available at triage.



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