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In Surgery ; h5-index 54.0

Patients and physicians make essential decisions regarding diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. These actions should be performed or deferred under time constraints and uncertainty regarding patients' diagnoses and predicted response to treatment. This may lead to cognitive and judgment errors. Reinforcement learning is a subfield of machine learning that identifies a sequence of actions to increase the probability of achieving a predetermined goal. Reinforcement learning has the potential to assist in surgical decision making by recommending actions at predefined intervals and its ability to utilize complex input data, including text, image, and temporal data, in the decision-making process. The algorithm mimics a human trial-and-error learning process to calculate optimum recommendation policies. The article provides insight regarding challenges in the development and application of reinforcement learning in the medical field, with an emphasis on surgical decision making. The review focuses on challenges in formulating reward function describing the ultimate goal and determination of patient states derived from electronic health records, along with the lack of resources to simulate the potential benefits of suggested actions in response to changing physiological states during and after surgery. Although clinical implementation would require secure, interoperable, livestreaming electronic health record data for use by virtual model, development and validation of personalized reinforcement learning models in surgery can contribute to improving care by helping patients and clinicians make better decisions.

Datta Shounak, Li Yanjun, Ruppert Matthew M, Ren Yuanfang, Shickel Benjamin, Ozrazgat-Baslanti Tezcan, Rashidi Parisa, Bihorac Azra

2021-Jan-09