Comparison of time series methods and machine learning algorithms for forecasting Taiwan Blood Services Foundation’s blood supply
Purpose. The uncertainty in supply and the short shelf life of blood products have led to a substantial outdating of the collected donor blood. On the other hand, hospitals and blood centers experience severe blood shortage due to the very limited donor population. Therefore, the necessity to forecast the blood supply to minimize outdating as well as shortage is obvious. This study aims to efficiently forecast the supply of blood components at blood centers. Methods. Two different types of forecasting techniques, time series and machine learning algorithms, are developed and the best performing method for the given case study is determined. Under the time series, we consider the Autoregressive (AUTOREG), Autoregressive Moving Average (ARMA), Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA), Seasonal ARIMA, Seasonal Exponential Smoothing Method (ESM), and Holt-Winters models. Artificial neural network (ANN) and multiple regression are considered under the machine learning algorithms. Results. We leverage five years worth of historical blood supply data from the Taiwan Blood Services Foundation (TBSF) to conduct our study. On comparing the different techniques, we found that time series forecasting methods yield better results than machine learning algorithms. More specifically, the least value of the error measures is observed in seasonal ESM and ARIMA models. Conclusions. The models developed can act as a decision support system to administrators and pathologists at blood banks, blood donation centers, and hospitals to determine their inventory policy based on the estimated future blood supply. The forecasting models developed in this study can help healthcare managers to manage blood inventory control more efficiently, thus reducing blood shortage and blood wastage.
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