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      Key challenges for delivering clinical impact with artificial intelligence

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          Abstract

          Background

          Artificial intelligence (AI) research in healthcare is accelerating rapidly, with potential applications being demonstrated across various domains of medicine. However, there are currently limited examples of such techniques being successfully deployed into clinical practice. This article explores the main challenges and limitations of AI in healthcare, and considers the steps required to translate these potentially transformative technologies from research to clinical practice.

          Main body

          Key challenges for the translation of AI systems in healthcare include those intrinsic to the science of machine learning, logistical difficulties in implementation, and consideration of the barriers to adoption as well as of the necessary sociocultural or pathway changes. Robust peer-reviewed clinical evaluation as part of randomised controlled trials should be viewed as the gold standard for evidence generation, but conducting these in practice may not always be appropriate or feasible. Performance metrics should aim to capture real clinical applicability and be understandable to intended users. Regulation that balances the pace of innovation with the potential for harm, alongside thoughtful post-market surveillance, is required to ensure that patients are not exposed to dangerous interventions nor deprived of access to beneficial innovations. Mechanisms to enable direct comparisons of AI systems must be developed, including the use of independent, local and representative test sets. Developers of AI algorithms must be vigilant to potential dangers, including dataset shift, accidental fitting of confounders, unintended discriminatory bias, the challenges of generalisation to new populations, and the unintended negative consequences of new algorithms on health outcomes.

          Conclusion

          The safe and timely translation of AI research into clinically validated and appropriately regulated systems that can benefit everyone is challenging. Robust clinical evaluation, using metrics that are intuitive to clinicians and ideally go beyond measures of technical accuracy to include quality of care and patient outcomes, is essential. Further work is required (1) to identify themes of algorithmic bias and unfairness while developing mitigations to address these, (2) to reduce brittleness and improve generalisability, and (3) to develop methods for improved interpretability of machine learning predictions. If these goals can be achieved, the benefits for patients are likely to be transformational.

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          Most cited references 85

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          Dermatologist-level classification of skin cancer with deep neural networks

          Skin cancer, the most common human malignancy, is primarily diagnosed visually, beginning with an initial clinical screening and followed potentially by dermoscopic analysis, a biopsy and histopathological examination. Automated classification of skin lesions using images is a challenging task owing to the fine-grained variability in the appearance of skin lesions. Deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) show potential for general and highly variable tasks across many fine-grained object categories. Here we demonstrate classification of skin lesions using a single CNN, trained end-to-end from images directly, using only pixels and disease labels as inputs. We train a CNN using a dataset of 129,450 clinical images—two orders of magnitude larger than previous datasets—consisting of 2,032 different diseases. We test its performance against 21 board-certified dermatologists on biopsy-proven clinical images with two critical binary classification use cases: keratinocyte carcinomas versus benign seborrheic keratoses; and malignant melanomas versus benign nevi. The first case represents the identification of the most common cancers, the second represents the identification of the deadliest skin cancer. The CNN achieves performance on par with all tested experts across both tasks, demonstrating an artificial intelligence capable of classifying skin cancer with a level of competence comparable to dermatologists. Outfitted with deep neural networks, mobile devices can potentially extend the reach of dermatologists outside of the clinic. It is projected that 6.3 billion smartphone subscriptions will exist by the year 2021 (ref. 13) and can therefore potentially provide low-cost universal access to vital diagnostic care.
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            Development and Validation of a Deep Learning Algorithm for Detection of Diabetic Retinopathy in Retinal Fundus Photographs.

            Deep learning is a family of computational methods that allow an algorithm to program itself by learning from a large set of examples that demonstrate the desired behavior, removing the need to specify rules explicitly. Application of these methods to medical imaging requires further assessment and validation.
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              The triple aim: care, health, and cost.

              Improving the U.S. health care system requires simultaneous pursuit of three aims: improving the experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing per capita costs of health care. Preconditions for this include the enrollment of an identified population, a commitment to universality for its members, and the existence of an organization (an "integrator") that accepts responsibility for all three aims for that population. The integrator's role includes at least five components: partnership with individuals and families, redesign of primary care, population health management, financial management, and macro system integration.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                cjkelly@google.com
                Journal
                BMC Med
                BMC Med
                BMC Medicine
                BioMed Central (London )
                1741-7015
                29 October 2019
                29 October 2019
                2019
                : 17
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Google Health, London, UK
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0004 5999 1726, GRID grid.498210.6, DeepMind, ; London, UK
                [3 ]Google Health, California, USA
                Article
                1426
                10.1186/s12916-019-1426-2
                6821018
                31665002
                © The Author(s). 2019

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Categories
                Opinion
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2019

                Medicine

                regulation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, algorithms, translation, evaluation

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