Emergency Department Visit Forecasting and Dynamic Nursing Staff Allocation Using Machine Learning Techniques With Readily Available Open-Source Software Articles uri icon


publication date

  • August 2015

start page

  • 368

end page

  • 377


  • 8


  • 33

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1538-2931

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1538-9774


  • Although emergency department visit forecasting can be of use for nurse staff planning, previous research has focused on models that lacked sufficient resolution and realistic error metrics for these predictions to be applied in practice. Using data from a 1100-bed specialized care hospital with 553 000 patients assigned to its healthcare area, forecasts with different prediction horizons, from 2 to 24 weeks ahead, with an 8-hour granularity, using support vector regression, M5P, and stratified average time-series models were generated with an open-source software package. As overstaffing and understaffing errors have different implications, error metrics and potential personnel monetary savings were calculated with a custom validation scheme, which simulated subsequent generation of predictions during a 4-year period. Results were then compared with a generalized estimating equation regression. Support vector regression and M5P models were found to be superior to the stratified average model with a 95% confidence interval. Our findings suggest that medium and severe understaffing situations could be reduced in more than an order of magnitude and average yearly savings of up to euro 683 500 could be achieved if dynamic nursing staff allocation was performed with support vector regression instead of the static staffing levels currently in use.


  • artificial intelligence; decision support; forecasting applications; hospital staffing; operations research; svm; time series; time series analysis; air pollution; patient volume; weather data; health care; calendar; asthma; association; accident; arrivals