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Algorithms used in medicine are trained on data from only a few states

The Verge Friday, 25 September 2020
Algorithms used in medicine are trained on data from only a few statesIllustration by Ana Kova

Most medical algorithms were developed using information from people treated in Massachusetts, California, or New York, according to a new study. Those three states dominate patient data — and 34 other states were simply not represented at all, according to the research published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The narrow geographic distribution of the data used for these algorithms may be an unrecognized bias, the study authors argue.

The algorithms that the researchers were looking at are designed to make medical decisions based on patient data. When researchers build an algorithm that they want to guide patient diagnosis — like to examine a chest X-ray and decide if it has signs of pneumonia — they feed...
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