Machine learning approach to reduce alert fatigue using a disease medication–related clinical decision support system: Model development and validation

Tahmina Nasrin Poly, Md Mohaimenul Islam, Muhammad Solihuddin Muhtar, Hsuan Chia Yang, Phung Anh Nguyen, Yu Chuan Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems are incorporated into clinical decision support systems (CDSSs) to reduce medication errors and improve patient safety. Automatic alerts generated from CDSSs can directly assist physicians in making useful clinical decisions and can help shape prescribing behavior. Multiple studies reported that approximately 90%-96% of alerts are overridden by physicians, which raises questions about the effectiveness of CDSSs. There is intense interest in developing sophisticated methods to combat alert fatigue, but there is no consensus on the optimal approaches so far. Objective: Our objective was to develop machine learning prediction models to predict physicians’ responses in order to reduce alert fatigue from disease medication–related CDSSs. Methods: We collected data from a disease medication–related CDSS from a university teaching hospital in Taiwan. We considered prescriptions that triggered alerts in the CDSS between August 2018 and May 2019. Machine learning models, such as artificial neural network (ANN), random forest (RF), naïve Bayes (NB), gradient boosting (GB), and support vector machine (SVM), were used to develop prediction models. The data were randomly split into training (80%) and testing (20%) datasets. Results: A total of 6453 prescriptions were used in our model. The ANN machine learning prediction model demonstrated excellent discrimination (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUROC] 0.94; accuracy 0.85), whereas the RF, NB, GB, and SVM models had AUROCs of 0.93, 0.91, 0.91, and 0.80, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity of the ANN model were 0.87 and 0.83, respectively. Conclusions: In this study, ANN showed substantially better performance in predicting individual physician responses to an alert from a disease medication–related CDSS, as compared to the other models. To our knowledge, this is the first study to use machine learning models to predict physician responses to alerts; furthermore, it can help to develop sophisticated CDSSs in real-world clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere19489
JournalJMIR medical informatics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Alert fatigue
  • Artificial neural network
  • Clinical decision support system
  • Machine learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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