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Reinforcement Learning in Healthcare: A Survey

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

As a subfield of machine learning, \emph{reinforcement learning} (RL) aims at empowering one's capabilities in behavioural decision making by using interaction experience with the world and an evaluative feedback. Unlike traditional supervised learning methods that usually rely on one-shot, exhaustive and supervised reward signals, RL tackles with sequential decision making problems with sampled, evaluative and delayed feedback simultaneously. Such distinctive features make RL technique a suitable candidate for developing powerful solutions in a variety of healthcare domains, where diagnosing decisions or treatment regimes are usually characterized by a prolonged and sequential procedure. This survey will discuss the broad applications of RL techniques in healthcare domains, in order to provide the research community with systematic understanding of theoretical foundations, enabling methods and techniques, existing challenges, and new insights of this emerging paradigm. By first briefly examining theoretical foundations and key techniques in RL research from efficient and representational directions, we then provide an overview of RL applications in a variety of healthcare domains, ranging from dynamic treatment regimes in chronic diseases and critical care, automated medical diagnosis from both unstructured and structured clinical data, as well as many other control or scheduling domains that have infiltrated many aspects of a healthcare system. Finally, we summarize the challenges and open issues in current research, and point out some potential solutions and directions for future research.


Health State Estimation

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Life's most valuable asset is health. Continuously understanding the state of our health and modeling how it evolves is essential if we wish to improve it. Given the opportunity that people live with more data about their life today than any other time in history, the challenge rests in interweaving this data with the growing body of knowledge to compute and model the health state of an individual continually. This dissertation presents an approach to build a personal model and dynamically estimate the health state of an individual by fusing multi-modal data and domain knowledge. The system is stitched together from four essential abstraction elements: 1. the events in our life, 2. the layers of our biological systems (from molecular to an organism), 3. the functional utilities that arise from biological underpinnings, and 4. how we interact with these utilities in the reality of daily life. Connecting these four elements via graph network blocks forms the backbone by which we instantiate a digital twin of an individual. Edges and nodes in this graph structure are then regularly updated with learning techniques as data is continuously digested. Experiments demonstrate the use of dense and heterogeneous real-world data from a variety of personal and environmental sensors to monitor individual cardiovascular health state. State estimation and individual modeling is the fundamental basis to depart from disease-oriented approaches to a total health continuum paradigm. Precision in predicting health requires understanding state trajectory. By encasing this estimation within a navigational approach, a systematic guidance framework can plan actions to transition a current state towards a desired one. This work concludes by presenting this framework of combining the health state and personal graph model to perpetually plan and assist us in living life towards our goals.


A new direction to promote the implementation of artificial intelligence in natural clinical settings

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

These authors contributed equally to this work. Artificial intelligence (AI) researchers claim that they have made great'achievements' in clinical realms. However, clinicians point out the so-called'achievements' have no ability to implement into natural clinical settings. The root cause for this huge gap is that many essential features of natural clinical tasks are overlooked by AI system developers without medical background. In this paper, we propose that the clinical benchmark suite is a novel and promising direction to capture the essential features of the real-world clinical tasks, hence qualifies itself for guiding the development of AI systems, promoting the implementation of AI in real-world clinical practice. AI researchers claim that they have obtained many significant'achievements' in various However, in practice, most of the AI products fail to obtain approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). AI devices are not qualified handling high-risk tasks such as clinical diagnosis .


Deep Representation Learning of Electronic Health Records to Unlock Patient Stratification at Scale

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Objective: Deriving disease subtypes from electronic health records (EHRs) can guide next-generation personalized medicine. However, challenges in summarizing and representing patient data prevent widespread practice of scalable EHR-based stratification analysis. Here, we present a novel unsupervised framework based on deep learning to process heterogeneous EHRs and derive patient representations that can efficiently and effectively enable patient stratification at scale. Materials and methods: We considered EHRs of $1,608,741$ patients from a diverse hospital cohort comprising of a total of $57,464$ clinical concepts. We introduce a representation learning model based on word embeddings, convolutional neural networks and autoencoders (i.e., "ConvAE") to transform patient trajectories into low-dimensional latent vectors. We evaluated these representations as broadly enabling patient stratification by applying hierarchical clustering to different multi-disease and disease-specific patient cohorts. Results: ConvAE significantly outperformed several common baselines in a clustering task to identify patients with different complex conditions, with $2.61$ entropy and $0.31$ purity average scores. When applied to stratify patients within a certain condition, ConvAE led to various clinically relevant subtypes for different disorders, including type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, largely related to comorbidities, disease progression, and symptom severity. Conclusions: Patient representations derived from modeling EHRs with ConvAE can help develop personalized medicine therapeutic strategies and better understand varying etiologies in heterogeneous sub-populations.