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In Journal of personalized medicine

Mobilized telemedicine is becoming a key, and even necessary, facet of both precision health and precision medicine. In this study, we evaluate the capability and potential of a crowd of virtual workers-defined as vetted members of popular crowdsourcing platforms-to aid in the task of diagnosing autism. We evaluate workers when crowdsourcing the task of providing categorical ordinal behavioral ratings to unstructured public YouTube videos of children with autism and neurotypical controls. To evaluate emerging patterns that are consistent across independent crowds, we target workers from distinct geographic loci on two crowdsourcing platforms: an international group of workers on Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) (N = 15) and Microworkers from Bangladesh (N = 56), Kenya (N = 23), and the Philippines (N = 25). We feed worker responses as input to a validated diagnostic machine learning classifier trained on clinician-filled electronic health records. We find that regardless of crowd platform or targeted country, workers vary in the average confidence of the correct diagnosis predicted by the classifier. The best worker responses produce a mean probability of the correct class above 80% and over one standard deviation above 50%, accuracy and variability on par with experts according to prior studies. There is a weak correlation between mean time spent on task and mean performance (r = 0.358, p = 0.005). These results demonstrate that while the crowd can produce accurate diagnoses, there are intrinsic differences in crowdworker ability to rate behavioral features. We propose a novel strategy for recruitment of crowdsourced workers to ensure high quality diagnostic evaluations of autism, and potentially many other pediatric behavioral health conditions. Our approach represents a viable step in the direction of crowd-based approaches for more scalable and affordable precision medicine.

Washington Peter, Leblanc Emilie, Dunlap Kaitlyn, Penev Yordan, Kline Aaron, Paskov Kelley, Sun Min Woo, Chrisman Brianna, Stockham Nathaniel, Varma Maya, Voss Catalin, Haber Nick, Wall Dennis P


autism, crowdsourcing, diagnostics, machine learning, pediatrics, telemedicine