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Contrastive Learning Improves Critical Event Prediction in COVID-19 Patients

01/11/2021
by   Tingyi Wanyan, et al.
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Machine Learning (ML) models typically require large-scale, balanced training data to be robust, generalizable, and effective in the context of healthcare. This has been a major issue for developing ML models for the coronavirus-disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic where data is highly imbalanced, particularly within electronic health records (EHR) research. Conventional approaches in ML use cross-entropy loss (CEL) that often suffers from poor margin classification. For the first time, we show that contrastive loss (CL) improves the performance of CEL especially for imbalanced EHR data and the related COVID-19 analyses. This study has been approved by the Institutional Review Board at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. We use EHR data from five hospitals within the Mount Sinai Health System (MSHS) to predict mortality, intubation, and intensive care unit (ICU) transfer in hospitalized COVID-19 patients over 24 and 48 hour time windows. We train two sequential architectures (RNN and RETAIN) using two loss functions (CEL and CL). Models are tested on full sample data set which contain all available data and restricted data set to emulate higher class imbalance.CL models consistently outperform CEL models with the restricted data set on these tasks with differences ranging from 0.04 to 0.15 for AUPRC and 0.05 to 0.1 for AUROC. For the restricted sample, only the CL model maintains proper clustering and is able to identify important features, such as pulse oximetry. CL outperforms CEL in instances of severe class imbalance, on three EHR outcomes with respect to three performance metrics: predictive power, clustering, and feature importance. We believe that the developed CL framework can be expanded and used for EHR ML work in general.

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