Automating risk stratification for geriatric syndromes in the emergency department

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2024 Jan;72(1):258-267. doi: 10.1111/jgs.18594. Epub 2023 Oct 9.


Background: Geriatric emergency department (GED) guidelines endorse screening older patients for geriatric syndromes in the ED, but there have been significant barriers to widespread implementation. The majority of screening programs require engagement of a clinician, nurse, or social worker, adding to already significant workloads at a time of record-breaking ED patient volumes, staff shortages, and hospital boarding crises. Automated, electronic health record (EHR)-embedded risk stratification approaches may be an alternate solution for extending the reach of the GED mission by directing human actions to a smaller subset of higher risk patients.

Methods: We define the concept of automated risk stratification and screening using existing EHR data. We discuss progress made in three potential use cases in the ED: falls, cognitive impairment, and end-of-life and palliative care, emphasizing the importance of linking automated screening with systems of healthcare delivery.

Results: Research progress and operational deployment vary by use case, ranging from deployed solutions in falls screening to algorithmic validation in cognitive impairment and end-of-life care.

Conclusions: Automated risk stratification offers a potential solution to one of the most pressing problems in geriatric emergency care: identifying high-risk populations of older adults most appropriate for specific GED care. Future work is needed to realize the promise of improved care with less provider burden by creating tools suitable for widespread deployment as well as best practices for their implementation and governance.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; automation; emergency medicine; machine learning; screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Syndrome