Machine learning models for diabetes management in acute care using electronic medical records: A systematic review

Int J Med Inform. 2022 Apr 2;162:104758. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2022.104758. Online ahead of print.


Background: Machine learning (ML) is a subset of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is used to predict and potentially prevent adverse patient outcomes. There is increasing interest in the application of these models in digital hospitals to improve clinical decision-making and chronic disease management, particularly for patients with diabetes. The potential of ML models using electronic medical records (EMR) to improve the clinical care of hospitalised patients with diabetes is currently unknown.

Objective: The aim was to systematically identify and critically review the published literature examining the development and validation of ML models using EMR data for improving the care of hospitalised adult patients with diabetes.

Methods: The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were followed. Four databases were searched (Embase, PubMed, IEEE and Web of Science) for studies published between January 2010 to January 2022. The reference lists of the eligible articles were manually searched. Articles that examined adults and both developed and validated ML models using EMR data were included. Studies conducted in primary care and community care settings were excluded. Studies were independently screened and data was extracted using Covidence® systematic review software. For data extraction and critical appraisal, the Checklist for Critical Appraisal and Data Extraction for Systematic Reviews of Prediction Modelling Studies (CHARMS) was followed. Risk of bias was assessed using the Prediction model Risk Of Bias Assessment Tool (PROBAST). Quality of reporting was assessed by adherence to the Transparent Reporting of a multivariable prediction model for Individual Prognosis Or Diagnosis (TRIPOD) guideline. The IJMEDI checklist was followed to assess quality of ML models and the reproducibility of their outcomes. The external validation methodology of the studies was appraised.

Results: Of the 1317 studies screened, twelve met inclusion criteria. Eight studies developed ML models to predict disglycaemic episodes for hospitalized patients with diabetes, one study developed a ML model to predict total insulin dosage, two studies predicted risk of readmission, and one study improved the prediction of hospital readmission for inpatients with diabetes. All included studies were heterogeneous with regard to ML types, cohort, input predictors, sample size, performance and validation metrics and clinical outcomes. Two studies adhered to the TRIPOD guideline. The methodological reporting of all the studies was evaluated to be at high risk of bias. The quality of ML models in all studies was assessed as poor. Robust external validation was not performed on any of the studies. No models were implemented or evaluated in routine clinical care.

Conclusions: This review identified a limited number of ML models which were developed to improve inpatient management of diabetes. No ML models were implemented in real hospital settings. Future research needs to enhance the development, reporting and validation steps to enable ML models for integration into routine clinical care.

Keywords: Artificial intelligence; Decision support system, clinical; Diabetes mellitus; Electronic health records; Machine learning; Medical informatics; Routinely collected health data.

Publication types

  • Review