Non-obvious correlations to disease management unraveled by Bayesian artificial intelligence analyses of CMS data

Artif Intell Med. 2016 Nov;74:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.artmed.2016.11.001. Epub 2016 Nov 17.


Objective: Given the availability of extensive digitized healthcare data from medical records, claims and prescription information, it is now possible to use hypothesis-free, data-driven approaches to mine medical databases for novel insight. The goal of this analysis was to demonstrate the use of artificial intelligence based methods such as Bayesian networks to open up opportunities for creation of new knowledge in management of chronic conditions.

Materials and methods: Hospital level Medicare claims data containing discharge numbers for most common diagnoses were analyzed in a hypothesis-free manner using Bayesian networks learning methodology.

Results: While many interactions identified between discharge rates of diagnoses using this data set are supported by current medical knowledge, a novel interaction linking asthma and renal failure was discovered. This interaction is non-obvious and had not been looked at by the research and clinical communities in epidemiological or clinical data. A plausible pharmacological explanation of this link is proposed together with a verification of the risk significance by conventional statistical analysis.

Conclusion: Potential clinical and molecular pathways defining the relationship between commonly used asthma medications and renal disease are discussed. The study underscores the need for further epidemiological research to validate this novel hypothesis. Validation will lead to advancement in clinical treatment of asthma & bronchitis, thereby, improving patient outcomes and leading to long term cost savings. In summary, this study demonstrates that application of advanced artificial intelligence methods in healthcare has the potential to enhance the quality of care by discovering non-obvious, clinically relevant relationships and enabling timely care intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence*
  • Bayes Theorem*
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S.
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Disease Management*
  • Humans
  • United States