Receive a weekly summary and discussion of the top papers of the week by leading researchers in the field.

In Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA

OBJECTIVE : Machine learning models trained on electronic health records have achieved high prognostic accuracy in test datasets, but little is known about their embedding into clinical workflows. We implemented a random forest-based algorithm to identify hospitalized patients at high risk for delirium, and evaluated its performance in a clinical setting.

MATERIALS AND METHODS : Delirium was predicted at admission and recalculated on the evening of admission. The defined prediction outcome was a delirium coded for the recent hospital stay. During 7 months of prospective evaluation, 5530 predictions were analyzed. In addition, 119 predictions for internal medicine patients were compared with ratings of clinical experts in a blinded and nonblinded setting.

RESULTS : During clinical application, the algorithm achieved a sensitivity of 74.1% and a specificity of 82.2%. Discrimination on prospective data (area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve = 0.86) was as good as in the test dataset, but calibration was poor. The predictions correlated strongly with delirium risk perceived by experts in the blinded (r = 0.81) and nonblinded (r = 0.62) settings. A major advantage of our setting was the timely prediction without additional data entry.

DISCUSSION : The implemented machine learning algorithm achieved a stable performance predicting delirium in high agreement with expert ratings, but improvement of calibration is needed. Future research should evaluate the acceptance of implemented machine learning algorithms by health professionals.

CONCLUSIONS : Our study provides new insights into the implementation process of a machine learning algorithm into a clinical workflow and demonstrates its predictive power for delirium.

Jauk Stefanie, Kramer Diether, Großauer Birgit, Rienmüller Susanne, Avian Alexander, Berghold Andrea, Leodolter Werner, Schulz Stefan


Machine learning, clinical decision support, delirium, electronic health records, prospective studies