Combining patient visual timelines with deep learning to predict mortality

Anoop Mayampurath, L. Nelson Sanchez-Pinto, Kyle A. Carey, Laura Ruth Venable, Matthew Churpek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background Deep learning algorithms have achieved human-equivalent performance in image recognition. However, the majority of clinical data within electronic health records is inherently in a non-image format. Therefore, creating visual representations of clinical data could facilitate using cutting-edge deep learning models for predicting outcomes such as in-hospital mortality, while enabling clinician interpretability. The objective of this study was to develop a framework that first transforms longitudinal patient data into visual timelines and then utilizes deep learning to predict in-hospital mortality. Methods and findings All adult consecutive patient admissions from 2008–2016 at a tertiary care center were included in this retrospective study. Two-dimensional visual representations for each patient were created with clinical variables on one dimension and time on the other. Predictors included vital signs, laboratory results, medications, interventions, nurse examinations, and diagnostic tests collected over the first 48 hours of the hospital stay. These visual timelines were utilized by a convolutional neural network with a recurrent layer model to predict in-hospital mortality. Seventy percent of the cohort was used for model derivation and 30% for independent validation. Of 115,825 hospital admissions, 2,926 (2.5%) suffered in-hospital mortality. Our model predicted in-hospital mortality significantly better than the Modified Early Warning Score (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUC]: 0.91 vs. 0.76, P < 0.001) and the Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score (AUC: 0.91 vs. 0.57, P < 0.001) in the independent validation set. Class-activation heatmaps were utilized to highlight areas of the picture that were most important for making the prediction, thereby providing clinicians with insight into each individual patient’s prediction. Conclusions We converted longitudinal patient data into visual timelines and applied a deep neural network for predicting in-hospital mortality more accurately than current standard clinical models, while allowing for interpretation. Our framework holds promise for predicting several important outcomes in clinical medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0220640
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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