Guiding principles help healthcare community address potential bias resulting from algorithms

Dec. 19, 2023
A new paper addresses the use of algorithms in healthcare, their impact on racial/ethnic disparities in care, and approaches to identify and mitigate biases.

A paper published in JAMA Network Open addresses the use of healthcare algorithms and provides the healthcare community with guiding principles to avoid repeating errors that have tainted the use of algorithms in other sectors.

This work was conducted by a technical expert panel that included researchers at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The use of algorithms is expanding in many realms of healthcare, from diagnostics and treatments to payer systems and business processes. Every sector of the healthcare system is using these technologies to try to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs.

The panel developed a conceptual framework to apply the following guiding principles across an algorithm’s life cycle to address the problems of structural racism and discrimination, centering on healthcare equity for patients and communities as the overarching goal:

  1. Promote health and healthcare equity during all healthcare algorithm life cycle phases.
  2. Ensure healthcare algorithms and their use are transparent and explainable.
  3. Authentically engage patients and communities during all healthcare algorithm life cycle phases and earn trustworthiness.
  4. Explicitly identify healthcare algorithmic fairness issues and tradeoffs.
  5. Establish accountability for equity and fairness in outcomes from healthcare algorithms.

HHS release