Predicting 30-day Hospital Readmission with Publicly Available Administrative Database: A Conditional Logistic Regression Modeling Approach

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Introduction: This article is part of the Focus Theme of Methods of Information in Medicine on “Big Data and Analytics in Healthcare”.

Background: Hospital readmissions raise healthcare costs and cause significant distress to providers and patients. It is, therefore, of great interest to healthcare organizations to predict what patients are at risk to be readmitted to their hospitals. However, current logistic regression based risk prediction models have limited prediction power when applied to hospital administrative data. Meanwhile, although decision trees and random forests have been applied, they tend to be too complex to understand among the hospital practitioners.

Objectives: Explore the use of conditional logistic regression to increase the prediction accuracy.

Methods: We analyzed an HCUP statewide inpatient discharge record dataset, which includes patient demographics, clinical and care utilization data from California. We extracted records of heart failure Medicare beneficiaries who had inpatient experience during an 11-month period. We corrected the data imbalance issue with under-sampling. In our study, we first applied standard logistic regression and decision tree to obtain influential variables and derive practically meaning decision rules. We then stratified the original data set accordingly and applied logistic regression on each data stratum. We further explored the effect of interacting variables in the logistic regression modeling. We conducted cross validation to assess the overall prediction performance of conditional logistic regression (CLR) and compared it with standard classification models.

Results: The developed CLR models outperformed several standard classification models (e.g., straightforward logistic regression, stepwise logistic regression, random forest, support vector machine). For example, the best CLR model improved the classification accuracy by nearly 20% over the straightforward logistic regression model. Furthermore, the developed CLR models tend to achieve better sensitivity of more than 10% over the standard classification models, which can be translated to correct labeling of additional 400 – 500 readmissions for heart failure patients in the state of California over a year. Lastly, several key predictor identified from the HCUP data include the disposition location from discharge, the number of chronic conditions, and the number of acute procedures.

Conclusions: It would be beneficial to apply simple decision rules obtained from the decision tree in an ad-hoc manner to guide the cohort stratification. It could be potentially beneficial to explore the effect of pairwise interactions between influential predictors when building the logistic regression models for different data strata. Judicious use of the ad-hoc CLR models developed offers insights into future development of prediction models for hospital readmissions, which can lead to better intuition in identifying high-risk patients and developing effective post-discharge care strategies. Lastly, this paper is expected to raise the awareness of collecting data on additional markers and developing necessary database infrastructure for larger-scale exploratory studies on readmission risk prediction.



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