A systematic review of the prediction of hospital length of stay: Towards a unified framework

Kieran Stone*, Reyer Zwiggelaar, Phil Jones, Neil Mac Parthaláin, Dukyong Yoon (Editor)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Downloads (Pure)


Hospital length of stay of patients is a crucial factor for the effective planning and management of hospital resources. There is considerable interest in predicting the LoS of patients in order to improve patient care, control hospital costs and increase service efficiency. This paper presents an extensive review of the literature, examining the approaches employed for the prediction of LoS in terms of their merits and shortcomings. In order to address some of these problems, a unified framework is proposed to better generalise the approaches that are being used to predict length of stay. This includes the investigation of the types of routinely collected data used in the problem as well as recommendations to ensure robust and meaningful knowledge modelling. This unified common framework enables the direct comparison of results between length of stay prediction approaches and will ensure that such approaches can be used across several hospital environments. A literature search was conducted in PubMed, Google Scholar and Web of Science from 1970 until 2019 to identify LoS surveys which review the literature. 32 Surveys were identified, from these 32 surveys, 220 papers were manually identified to be relevant to LoS prediction. After removing duplicates, and exploring the reference list of studies included for review, 93 studies remained. Despite the continuing efforts to predict and reduce the LoS of patients, current research in this domain remains ad-hoc; as such, the model tuning and data preprocessing steps are too specific and result in a large proportion of the current prediction mechanisms being restricted to the hospital that they were employed in. Adopting a unified framework for the prediction of LoS could yield a more reliable estimate of the LoS as a unified framework enables the direct comparison of length of stay methods. Additional research is also required to explore novel methods such as fuzzy systems which could build upon the success of current models as well as further exploration of black-box approaches and model interpretability.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages38
JournalPLOS Digital Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2022


  • Research Article
  • Computer and information sciences
  • Social sciences
  • Engineering and technology
  • Physical sciences
  • Medicine and health sciences
  • Biology and life sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'A systematic review of the prediction of hospital length of stay: Towards a unified framework'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this