As a validation study, we applied this method to reveal condition patterns surrounding an initial diagnosis of pediatric asthma.

The SPADE (Sequential PAttern Discovery using Equivalence classes) algorithm was used to identify common temporal condition patterns surrounding the initial diagnosis of pediatric asthma in a study population of 71 824 patients from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. SPADE was applied to a dataset with diagnoses coded using International Classification of Diseases (ICD) concepts and separately to a dataset with the ICD codes mapped to their corresponding expanded diagnostic clusters (EDCs). Common temporal condition patterns surrounding the initial diagnosis of pediatric asthma ascertained by SPADE from both the ICD and EDC datasets were compared.

SPADE identified 36 unique diagnoses in the mapped EDC dataset, whereas only 19 were recognized in the ICD dataset. Temporal trends in condition diagnoses ascertained from the EDC data were not discoverable in the ICD dataset.

Mining frequent temporal condition patterns from large electronic health record datasets may reveal previously unknown associations between diagnoses that could inform future research into causation or other relationships. Mapping sparsely coded medical concepts into homogenous groups was essential to discovering potentially useful information from our dataset.

We expect that the presented methodology is applicable to the study of diagnostic trajectories for other clinical conditions and can be extended to study temporal patterns of other coded medical concepts such as medications and procedures.

Read the entire article authored by Drexel University student Elizabeth Campbell in the Masino Lab here.