Analysis of healthcare service utilization after transport-related injuries by a mixture of hidden Markov models

Publication Type:
Journal Article
PLoS ONE, 2018, 13 (11)
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© 2018 Esmaili et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Background Transport injuries commonly result in significant disease burden, leading to physical disability, mental health deterioration and reduced quality of life. Analyzing the patterns of healthcare service utilization after transport injuries can provide an insight into the health of the affected parties, allow improved health system resource planning, and provide a baseline against which any future system-level interventions can be evaluated. Therefore, this research aims to use time series of service utilization provided by a compensation agency to identify groups of claimants with similar utilization patterns, describe such patterns, and characterize the groups in terms of demographic, accident type and injury type. Methods To achieve this aim, we have proposed an analytical framework that utilizes latent variables to describe the utilization patterns over time and group the claimants into clusters based on their service utilization time series. To perform the clustering without dismissing the temporal dimension of the time series, we have used a well-established statistical approach known as the mixture of hidden Markov models (MHMM). Ensuing the clustering, we have applied multinomial logistic regression to provide a description of the clusters against demographic, injury and accident covariates. Results We have tested our model with data on psychology service utilization from one of the main compensation agencies for transport accidents in Australia, and found that three clear clusters of service utilization can be evinced from the data. These three clusters correspond to claimants who have tended to use the services 1) only briefly after the accident; 2) for an intermediate period of time and in moderate amounts; and 3) for a sustained period of time, and intensely. The size of these clusters is approximately 67%, 27% and 6% of the number of claimants, respectively. The multinomial logistic regression analysis has showed that claimants who were 30 to 60-year-old at the time of accident, were witnesses, and who suffered a soft tissue injury were more likely to be part of the intermediate cluster than the majority cluster. Conversely, claimants who suffered more severe injuries such as a brain head injury or anon-limb fracture injury and who started their service utilization later were more likely to be part of the sustained cluster.
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