Background Digital patient records in the ambulance service have opened up new opportunities for prehospital care. Previously it was demonstrated that prehospital pyrexia numbers are linked to an increase in overall calls to the ambulance service. This study aims to predict the future number of calls using deep-learning methods.
Methods Temperature readings for 280,447 patients were generously provided by the South Western Ambulance Service Trust. The data covered the time between 05/01/2016 and 30/04/2017 with overall 44,472 patients being pyretic. A rolling window of 10 days was applied to daily sums for both pyretic and apyretic patients. These windows were used as input features to train machine-learning algorithms predicting the number of calls 10 days ahead. Algorithms tested include Linear Regression (LR), basic Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN), Long Short Term Memory (LSTM) and Gated Recurrent Unit (GRU) architectures. A genetic approach was used to optimise the architecture, in which parameters were randomly modified and over several generations the best performing algorithm will be selected to be further manipulated. To assess performance the Mean Average Percentage Error (MAPE) was used.
Results The initial analysis showed that the total patient number and pyretic patient numbers are correlated. The best performing algorithms with varying numbers of hidden units had the following MAPE in comparison to simple LR: LR=19.4%, LSTM (104 units) = 6.1%, RNN (79 units)=6.01%, GRU (80 units)=5.97%.
Conclusions These preliminary results suggest that deep-learning methods allow to predict the variations in total number of calls caused by circulating infections. Further investigations will aim to confirm these findings. Once fully verified these algorithms could play a major role in operational planning of any ambulance service by predicting increases in demand.
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