Modelling patient trajectories using multimodal information

J Biomed Inform. 2022 Oct:134:104195. doi: 10.1016/j.jbi.2022.104195. Epub 2022 Sep 21.


Background: Electronic Health Records (EHRs) aggregate diverse information at the patient level, holding a trajectory representative of the evolution of the patient health status throughout time. Although this information provides context and can be leveraged by physicians to monitor patient health and make more accurate prognoses/diagnoses, patient records can contain information from very long time spans, which combined with the rapid generation rate of medical data makes clinical decision making more complex. Patient trajectory modelling can assist by exploring existing information in a scalable manner, and can contribute in augmenting health care quality by fostering preventive medicine practices (e.g. earlier disease diagnosis).

Methods: We propose a solution to model patient trajectories that combines different types of information (e.g. clinical text, standard codes) and considers the temporal aspect of clinical data. This solution leverages two different architectures: one supporting flexible sets of input features, to convert patient admissions into dense representations; and a second exploring extracted admission representations in a recurrent-based architecture, where patient trajectories are processed in sub-sequences using a sliding window mechanism.

Results: The developed solution was evaluated on two different clinical outcomes, unexpected patient readmission and disease progression, using the publicly available Medical Information Mart for Intensive Care (MIMIC)-III clinical database. The results obtained demonstrate the potential of the first architecture to model readmission and diagnoses prediction using single patient admissions. While information from clinical text did not show the discriminative power observed in other existing works, this may be explained by the need to fine-tune the clinicalBERT model. Finally, we demonstrate the potential of the sequence-based architecture using a sliding window mechanism to represent the input data, attaining comparable performances to other existing solutions.

Conclusion: Herein, we explored DL-based techniques to model patient trajectories and propose two flexible architectures that explore patient admissions on an individual and sequence basis. The combination of clinical text with other types of information led to positive results, which can be further improved by including a fine-tuned version of clinicalBERT in the architectures. The proposed solution can be publicly accessed at

Keywords: Clinical notes; Contextual embeddings; Deep learning; EHR; Patient trajectory modelling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Disease Progression
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Humans
  • Patient Readmission*
  • Physicians*
  • Prognosis