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Deep Reinforcement Learning for Clinical Decision Support: A Brief Survey

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Owe to the recent advancements in Artificial Intelligence especially deep learning, many data-driven decision support systems have been implemented to facilitate medical doctors in delivering personalized care. We focus on the deep reinforcement learning (DRL) models in this paper. DRL models have demonstrated human-level or even superior performance in the tasks of computer vision and game playings, such as Go and Atari game. However, the adoption of deep reinforcement learning techniques in clinical decision optimization is still rare. We here present the first survey that summarizes reinforcement learning algorithms with Deep Neural Networks (DNN) on clinical decision support. We also discuss some case studies, where different DRL algorithms were applied to address various clinical challenges. We further compare and contrast the advantages and limitations of various DRL algorithms and present a preliminary guide on how to choose the appropriate DRL algorithm for particular clinical applications.


Deep Reinforcement Learning for Dynamic Treatment Regimes on Medical Registry Data

arXiv.org Machine Learning

This paper presents the first deep reinforcement learning (DRL) framework to estimate the optimal Dynamic Treatment Regimes from observational medical data. This framework is more flexible and adaptive for high dimensional action and state spaces than existing reinforcement learning methods to model real-life complexity in heterogeneous disease progression and treatment choices, with the goal of providing doctor and patients the data-driven personalized decision recommendations. The proposed DRL framework comprises (i) a supervised learning step to predict the most possible expert actions, and (ii) a deep reinforcement learning step to estimate the long-term value function of Dynamic Treatment Regimes. Both steps depend on deep neural networks. As a key motivational example, we have implemented the proposed framework on a data set from the Center for International Bone Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) registry database, focusing on the sequence of prevention and treatments for acute and chronic graft versus host disease after transplantation. In the experimental results, we have demonstrated promising accuracy in predicting human experts' decisions, as well as the high expected reward function in the DRL-based dynamic treatment regimes.


The Actor Search Tree Critic (ASTC) for Off-Policy POMDP Learning in Medical Decision Making

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Off-policy reinforcement learning enables near-optimal policy from suboptimal experience, thereby provisions opportunity for artificial intelligence applications in healthcare. Previous works have mainly framed patient-clinician interactions as Markov decision processes, while true physiological states are not necessarily fully observable from clinical data. We capture this situation with partially observable Markov decision process, in which an agent optimises its actions in a belief represented as a distribution of patient states inferred from individual history trajectories. A Gaussian mixture model is fitted for the observed data. Moreover, we take into account the fact that nuance in pharmaceutical dosage could presumably result in significantly different effect by modelling a continuous policy through a Gaussian approximator directly in the policy space, i.e. the actor. To address the challenge of infinite number of possible belief states which renders exact value iteration intractable, we evaluate and plan for only every encountered belief, through heuristic search tree by tightly maintaining lower and upper bounds of the true value of belief. We further resort to function approximations to update value bounds estimation, i.e. the critic, so that the tree search can be improved through more compact bounds at the fringe nodes that will be back-propagated to the root. Both actor and critic parameters are learned via gradient-based approaches. Our proposed policy trained from real intensive care unit data is capable of dictating dosing on vasopressors and intravenous fluids for sepsis patients that lead to the best patient outcomes.


Evaluating Reinforcement Learning Algorithms in Observational Health Settings

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Much attention has been devoted recently to the development of machine learning algorithms with the goal of improving treatment policies in healthcare. Reinforcement learning (RL) is a sub-field within machine learning that is concerned with learning how to make sequences of decisions so as to optimize long-term effects. Already, RL algorithms have been proposed to identify decision-making strategies for mechanical ventilation, sepsis management and treatment of schizophrenia. However, before implementing treatment policies learned by black-box algorithms in high-stakes clinical decision problems, special care must be taken in the evaluation of these policies. In this document, our goal is to expose some of the subtleties associated with evaluating RL algorithms in healthcare. We aim to provide a conceptual starting point for clinical and computational researchers to ask the right questions when designing and evaluating algorithms for new ways of treating patients. In the following, we describe how choices about how to summarize a history, variance of statistical estimators, and confounders in more ad-hoc measures can result in unreliable, even misleading estimates of the quality of a treatment policy. We also provide suggestions for mitigating these effects---for while there is much promise for mining observational health data to uncover better treatment policies, evaluation must be performed thoughtfully.


Optimizing Medical Treatment for Sepsis in Intensive Care: from Reinforcement Learning to Pre-Trial Evaluation

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Our aim is to establish a framework where reinforcement learning (RL) of optimizing interventions retrospectively allows us a regulatory compliant pathway to prospective clinical testing of the learned policies in a clinical deployment. We focus on infections in intensive care units which are one of the major causes of death and difficult to treat because of the complex and opaque patient dynamics, and the clinically debated, highly-divergent set of intervention policies required by each individual patient, yet intensive care units are naturally data rich. In our work, we build on RL approaches in healthcare ("AI Clinicians"), and learn off-policy continuous dosing policy of pharmaceuticals for sepsis treatment using historical intensive care data under partially observable MDPs (POMDPs). POMPDs capture uncertainty in patient state better by taking in all historical information, yielding an efficient representation, which we investigate through ablations. We compensate for the lack of exploration in our retrospective data by evaluating each encountered state with a best-first tree search. We mitigate state distributional shift by optimizing our policy in the vicinity of the clinicians' compound policy. Crucially, we evaluate our model recommendations using not only conventional policy evaluations but a novel framework that incorporates human experts: a model-agnostic pre-clinical evaluation method to estimate the accuracy and uncertainty of clinician's decisions versus our system recommendations when confronted with the same individual patient history ("shadow mode").