Advances in machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence offer tremendous potential benefits to patients. Predictive analytics using ML are already widely used in healthcare operations and care delivery, but how can ML be used for health economics and outcomes research (HEOR)? To answer this question, ISPOR established an emerging good practices task force for the application of ML in HEOR.
The task force identified 5 methodological areas where ML could enhance HEOR: (1) cohort selection, identifying samples with greater specificity with respect to inclusion criteria; (2) identification of independent predictors and covariates of health outcomes; (3) predictive analytics of health outcomes, including those that are high cost or life threatening; (4) causal inference through methods, such as targeted maximum likelihood estimation or double-debiased estimation—helping to produce reliable evidence more quickly; and (5) application of ML to the development of economic models to reduce structural, parameter, and sampling uncertainty in cost-effectiveness analysis.
Overall, ML facilitates HEOR through the meaningful and efficient analysis of big data. Nevertheless, a lack of transparency on how ML methods deliver solutions to feature selection and predictive analytics, especially in unsupervised circumstances, increases risk to providers and other decision makers in using ML results.
To examine whether ML offers a useful and transparent solution to healthcare analytics, the task force developed the PALISADE Checklist. It is a guide for balancing the many potential applications of ML with the need for transparency in methods development and findings.
The full study is available in Value in Health.