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In Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA

OBJECTIVE : Predicting patient outcomes using healthcare/genomics data is an increasingly popular/important area. However, some diseases are rare and require data from multiple institutions to construct generalizable models. To address institutional data protection policies, many distributed methods keep the data locally but rely on a central server for coordination, which introduces risks such as a single point of failure. We focus on providing an alternative based on a decentralized approach. We introduce the idea using blockchain technology for this purpose, with a brief description of its own potential advantages/disadvantages.

MATERIALS AND METHODS : We explain how our proposed EXpectation Propagation LOgistic REgRession on Permissioned blockCHAIN (ExplorerChain) can achieve the same results when compared to a distributed model that uses a central server on 3 healthcare/genomic datasets, and what trade-offs need to be considered when using centralized/decentralized methods. We explain how the use of blockchain technology can help decrease some of the problems encountered in decentralized methods.

RESULTS : We showed that the discrimination power of ExplorerChain can be statistically similar to its counterpart central server-based algorithm. While ExplorerChain inherited some benefits of blockchain, it had a small increased running time.

DISCUSSION : ExplorerChain has the same prerequisites as a distributed model with a centralized server for coordination. In a manner similar to secure multi-party computation strategies, it assumes that participating institutions are honest, but "curious."

CONCLUSION : When evaluated on relatively small datasets, results suggest that ExplorerChain, which combines artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies, performs as well as a central server-based method, and may avoid some risks at the cost of efficiency.

Kuo Tsung-Ting, Gabriel Rodney A, Cidambi Krishna R, Ohno-Machado Lucila


blockchain distributed ledger technology, clinical information systems, decision support systems, online machine learning, privacy-preserving predictive modeling