AAAI Publications, The Twenty-Ninth International Flairs Conference

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Examining Healthcare Utilization Patterns of Elderly and Middle-Aged Adults in the United States
Cilia E. Zayas, Zhe He, Jiawei Yuan, Mildred Maldonado-Molina, William Hogan, François Modave, Yi Guo, Jiang Bian

Last modified: 2016-03-30


Elderly patients, aged 65 or older, make up 13.5% of the U.S. population, but represent 45.2% of the top 10% of healthcare utilizers, in terms of expenditures. Middle-aged Americans, aged 45 to 64 make up another 37.0% of that category. Given the high demand for healthcare services by the aforementioned population, it is important to identify high-cost users of healthcare systems and, more importantly, ineffective utilization patterns to highlight where targeted interventions could be placed to improve care delivery. In this work, we present a novel multi-level framework applying machine learning (ML) methods (i.e., random forest regression and hierarchical clustering) to group patients with similar utilization profiles into clusters. We use a vector space model to characterize a patient’s utilization profile as the number of visits to different care providers and prescribed medications. We applied the proposed methods using the 2013 Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (MEPS) dataset. We identified clusters of healthcare utilization patterns of elderly and middle-aged adults in the United States, and assessed the general and clinical characteristics associated with these utilization patterns. Our results demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed framework to model healthcare utilization patterns. Understanding of these patterns can be used to guide healthcare policy-making and practice.


healthcare utilization; elderly and middle-aged adults; utilization pattern; random forest; hierarchical clustering;

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