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Thread: Colorblind care

  1. #1

    Default Colorblind care

    fascinating story. Can we get reasonably good IDs on the hospital and the insurance company?

    A health care algorithm offered less care to black patients
    Shows risks of making decisions using data that reflects inequities in American society.


    EXCERPT:

    A health care algorithm offered less care to black patients

    Care for some of the sickest Americans is decided in part by algorithm. New research shows that software guiding care for tens of millions of people systematically privileges white patients over black patients. Analysis of records from a major US hospital revealed that the algorithm used effectively let whites cut in line for special programs for patients with complex, chronic conditions such as diabetes or kidney problems.

    The hospital, which the researchers didn’t identify but described as a “large academic hospital,” was one of many US health providers that employ algorithms to identify primary care patients with the most complex health needs. Such software is often tapped to recommend people for programs that offer extra support—including dedicated appointments and nursing teams—to people with a tangle of chronic conditions.

    Researchers who dug through nearly 50,000 records discovered that the algorithm effectively low-balled the health needs of the hospital’s black patients. Using its output to help select patients for extra care favored white patients over black patients with the same health burden.

    When the researchers compared black patients and white patients to whom the algorithm assigned similar risk scores, they found the black patients were significantly sicker, for example with higher blood pressure and less well-controlled diabetes. This had the effect of excluding people from the extra care program on the basis of race. The hospital automatically enrolled patients above certain risk scores into the program or referred them for consideration by doctors.
    The researchers calculated that the algorithm’s bias effectively reduced the proportion of black patients receiving extra help by more than half, from almost 50% to less than 20%. Those missing out on extra care potentially faced a greater chance of emergency room visits and hospital stays.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  2. #2
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    I have the feeling I heard something about color bias in care not so long ago.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    I have the feeling I heard something about color bias in care not so long ago.
    There's a great deal of racial bias in healthcare, eg. the findings re. racial disparities in treatment of pain (and the bizarre reasons for that). Interesting to see further evidence of the way colorblind policies can entrench and even exacerbate structural racism. In this case, this outcome should have been predictable; either the people responsible for developing the strategy were extremely naive, or they simply did not care.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  4. #4
    Why is it such a surprise that medical care has racial biases? It's had gender biases for generations, too.

    The medical computer algorithms are predominantly designed and programmed by white men, so I'm surprised when anyone expects a different/better outcome, as if they've 'taught' the computer to overcome the biases they're not even aware of.

  5. #5
    Sadly any social scientist will tell you that pretty much everything correlates with race. Maybe I don't have time to read deeply anymore as I'm focused on glorious Brexit, but I'm unclear what inputs were part of this algorithm and how it was used to make care decisions.

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