Representation learning for clinical time series prediction tasks in electronic health records

Research paper by Tong Ruan, Liqi Lei, Yangming Zhou, Jie Zhai, Le Zhang, Ping He, Ju Gao

Indexed on: 17 Dec '19Published on: 17 Dec '19Published in: BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making


Electronic health records (EHRs) provide possibilities to improve patient care and facilitate clinical research. However, there are many challenges faced by the applications of EHRs, such as temporality, high dimensionality, sparseness, noise, random error and systematic bias. In particular, temporal information is difficult to effectively use by traditional machine learning methods while the sequential information of EHRs is very useful.In this paper, we propose a general-purpose patient representation learning approach to summarize sequential EHRs. Specifically, a recurrent neural network based denoising autoencoder (RNN-DAE) is employed to encode inhospital records of each patient into a low dimensional dense vector.Based on EHR data collected from Shuguang Hospital affiliated to Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, we experimentally evaluate our proposed RNN-DAE method on both mortality prediction task and comorbidity prediction task. Extensive experimental results show that our proposed RNN-DAE method outperforms existing methods. In addition, we apply the “Deep Feature” represented by our proposed RNN-DAE method to track similar patients with t-SNE, which also achieves some interesting observations.We propose an effective unsupervised RNN-DAE method to summarize patient sequential information in EHR data. Our proposed RNN-DAE method is useful on both mortality prediction task and comorbidity prediction task.