Predicting Hospitalization Due to COPD Exacerbations in Swedish Primary Care Patients Using Machine Learning - Based on the ARCTIC Study

Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2021 Mar 16:16:677-688. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S293099. eCollection 2021.


Purpose: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations can negatively impact disease severity, progression, mortality and lead to hospitalizations. We aimed to develop a model that predicts a patient's risk of hospitalization due to severe exacerbations (defined as COPD-related hospitalizations) of COPD, using Swedish patient level data.

Patients and methods: Patient level data for 7823 Swedish patients with COPD was collected from electronic medical records (EMRs) and national registries covering healthcare contacts, diagnoses, prescriptions, lab tests, hospitalizations and socioeconomic factors between 2000 and 2013. Models were created using machine-learning methods to predict risk of imminent exacerbation causing patient hospitalization due to COPD within the next 10 days. Exacerbations occurring within this period were considered as one event. Model performance was assessed using the Area under the Precision-Recall Curve (AUPRC). To compare performance with previous similar studies, the Area Under Receiver Operating Curve (AUROC) was also reported. The model with the highest mean cross validation AUPRC was selected as the final model and was in a final step trained on the entire training dataset.

Results: The most important factors for predicting severe exacerbations were exacerbations in the previous six months and in whole history, number of COPD-related healthcare contacts and comorbidity burden. Validation on test data yielded an AUROC of 0.86 and AUPRC of 0.08, which was high in comparison to previously published attempts to predict COPD exacerbation.

Conclusion: Our work suggests that clinically available information on patient history collected via automated retrieval from EMRs and national registries or directly during patient consultation can form the basis for future clinical tools to predict risk of severe COPD exacerbations.

Keywords: COPD; exacerbation; hospitalization; machine learning.

MeSH terms

  • Disease Progression
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning
  • Primary Health Care
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / epidemiology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / therapy
  • Sweden / epidemiology

Grants and funding

This study was funded by the Novartis Pharma AG (Basel, Switzerland).