Comparison of Machine Learning Algorithms for the Prediction of Preventable Hospital Readmissions

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A diverse universe of statistical models in the literature aim to help hospitals understand the risk factors of their preventable readmissions. However, these models are usually not necessarily applicable in other contexts, fail to achieve good discriminatory power, or cannot be compared with other models. We built and compared predictive models based on machine learning algorithms for 30-day preventable hospital readmissions of Medicare patients. This work used the same inclusion/exclusion criteria for diseases used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In addition, risk stratification techniques were implemented to study covariate behavior on each risk strata. The new models resulted in improved performance measured by the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve. Finally, factors such as higher length of stay, disease severity index, being discharged to a hospital, and primary language other than English were associated with increased risk to be readmitted within 30 days. In the future, better predictive models for 30-day preventable hospital readmissions can point to the development of systems that identify patients at high risk and lead to the implementation of interventions (e.g., discharge planning and follow-up) to those patients, providing consistent improvement in the quality and efficiency of the healthcare system.

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