Designing an Implementable Clinical Prediction Model for Near-Term Mortality and Long-Term Survival in Patients on Maintenance Hemodialysis

Am J Kidney Dis. 2024 Feb 21:S0272-6386(24)00594-8. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2023.12.013. Online ahead of print.


Rationale & objective: The life expectancy of patients treated with maintenance hemodialysis (MHD) is heterogeneous. Knowledge of life-expectancy may focus care decisions on near-term versus long-term goals. The current tools are limited and focus on near-term mortality. Here, we develop and assess potential utility for predicting near-term mortality and long-term survival on MHD.

Study design: Predictive modeling study.

Setting & participants: 42,351 patients contributing 997,381 patient months over 11 years, abstracted from the electronic health record (EHR) system of midsize, nonprofit dialysis providers.

New predictors & established predictors: Demographics, laboratory results, vital signs, and service utilization data available within dialysis EHR.

Outcome: For each patient month, we ascertained death within the next 6 months (ie, near-term mortality) and survival over more than 5 years during receipt of MHD or after kidney transplantation (ie, long-term survival).

Analytical approach: We used least absolute shrinkage and selection operator logistic regression and gradient-boosting machines to predict each outcome. We compared these to time-to-event models spanning both time horizons. We explored the performance of decision rules at different cut points.

Results: All models achieved an area under the receiver operator characteristic curve of≥0.80 and optimal calibration metrics in the test set. The long-term survival models had significantly better performance than the near-term mortality models. The time-to-event models performed similarly to binary models. Applying different cut points spanning from the 1st to 90th percentile of the predictions, a positive predictive value (PPV) of 54% could be achieved for near-term mortality, but with poor sensitivity of 6%. A PPV of 71% could be achieved for long-term survival with a sensitivity of 67%.

Limitations: The retrospective models would need to be prospectively validated before they could be appropriately used as clinical decision aids.

Conclusions: A model built with readily available clinical variables to support easy implementation can predict clinically important life expectancy thresholds and shows promise as a clinical decision support tool for patients on MHD. Predicting long-term survival has better decision rule performance than predicting near-term mortality.

Plain-language summary: Clinical prediction models (CPMs) are not widely used for patients undergoing maintenance hemodialysis (MHD). Although a variety of CPMs have been reported in the literature, many of these were not well-designed to be easily implementable. We consider the performance of an implementable CPM for both near-term mortality and long-term survival for patients undergoing MHD. Both near-term and long-term models have similar predictive performance, but the long-term models have greater clinical utility. We further consider how the differential performance of predicting over different time horizons may be used to impact clinical decision making. Although predictive modeling is not regularly used for MHD patients, such tools may help promote individualized care planning and foster shared decision making.

Keywords: Clinical prediction; dialysis; machine learning; mortality; risk prediction.