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

In JMIRx med

Background : The onset and development of the COVID-19 pandemic have placed pressure on hospital resources and staff worldwide. The integration of more streamlined predictive modeling in prognosis and triage-related decision-making can partly ease this pressure.

Objective : The objective of this study is to assess the performance impact of dimensionality reduction on COVID-19 mortality prediction models, demonstrating the high impact of a limited number of features to limit the need for complex variable gathering before reaching meaningful risk labelling in clinical settings.

Methods : Standard machine learning classifiers were employed to predict an outcome of either death or recovery using 25 patient-level variables, spanning symptoms, comorbidities, and demographic information, from a geographically diverse sample representing 17 countries. The effects of feature reduction on the data were tested by running classifiers on a high-quality data set of 212 patients with populated entries for all 25 available features. The full data set was compared to two reduced variations with 7 features and 1 feature, respectively, extracted using univariate mutual information and chi-square testing. Classifier performance on each data set was then assessed on the basis of accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, and received operating characteristic-derived area under the curve metrics to quantify benefit or loss from reduction.

Results : The performance of the classifiers on the 212-patient sample resulted in strong mortality detection, with the highest performing model achieving specificity of 90.7% (95% CI 89.1%-92.3%) and sensitivity of 92.0% (95% CI 91.0%-92.9%). Dimensionality reduction provided strong benefits for performance. The baseline accuracy of a random forest classifier increased from 89.2% (95% CI 88.0%-90.4%) to 92.5% (95% CI 91.9%-93.0%) when training on 7 chi-square-extracted features and to 90.8% (95% CI 89.8%-91.7%) when training on 7 mutual information-extracted features. Reduction impact on a separate logistic classifier was mixed; however, when present, losses were marginal compared to the extent of feature reduction, altogether showing that reduction either improves performance or can reduce the variable-sourcing burden at hospital admission with little performance loss. Extreme feature reduction to a single most salient feature, often age, demonstrated large standalone explanatory power, with the best-performing model achieving an accuracy of 81.6% (95% CI 81.1%-82.1%); this demonstrates the relatively marginal improvement that additional variables bring to the tested models.

Conclusions : Predictive statistical models have promising performance in early prediction of death among patients with COVID-19. Strong dimensionality reduction was shown to further improve baseline performance on selected classifiers and only marginally reduce it in others, highlighting the importance of feature reduction in future model construction and the feasibility of deprioritizing large, hard-to-source, and nonessential feature sets in real world settings.

Doyle Riccardo

COVID-19, artificial intelligence, automation, comorbidities, coronavirus, dimensionality reduction, epidemiology, hospital, machine learning, medical informatics, model development, mortality, pre-existing conditions, prediction, prognosis, public data, resource management, triage