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Journal Description

The Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), now in its 21st year, is the pioneer open access eHealth journal and is the flagship journal of JMIR Publications. It is the leading digital health journal globally in terms of quality/visibility (Impact Factor 2019: 5.03), ranking Q1 in the medical informatics category, and is also the largest journal in the field. The journal focuses on emerging technologies, medical devices, apps, engineering, telehealth and informatics applications for patient education, prevention, population health and clinical care. As a leading high-impact journal in its disciplines (health informatics and health services research), it is selective, but it is now complemented by almost 30 specialty JMIR sister journals, which have a broader scope, and which together receive over 6.000 submissions a year. Peer-review reports are portable across JMIR journals and papers can be transferred, so authors save time by not having to resubmit a paper to different journal but can simply transfer it between journals. 

As an open access journal, we are read by clinicians, allied health professionals, informal caregivers, and patients alike, and have (as with all JMIR journals) a focus on readable and applied science reporting the design and evaluation of health innovations and emerging technologies. We publish original research, viewpoints, and reviews (both literature reviews and medical device/technology/app reviews).

We are also a leader in participatory and open science approaches, and offer the option to publish new submissions immediately as preprints, which receive DOIs for immediate citation (eg, in grant proposals), and for open peer-review purposes. We also invite patients to participate (eg, as peer-reviewers) and have patient representatives on editorial boards.

Be a widely cited leader in the digitial health revolution and submit your paper today!

 

Recent Articles:

  • Source: Unsplash; Copyright: SJ Objio; URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/8hHxO3iYuU0; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Artificial Intelligence for COVID-19: Rapid Review

    Abstract:

    Background: COVID-19 was first discovered in December 2019 and has since evolved into a pandemic. Objective: To address this global health crisis, artificial intelligence (AI) has been deployed at various levels of the health care system. However, AI has both potential benefits and limitations. We therefore conducted a review of AI applications for COVID-19. Methods: We performed an extensive search of the PubMed and EMBASE databases for COVID-19–related English-language studies published between December 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020. We supplemented the database search with reference list checks. A thematic analysis and narrative review of AI applications for COVID-19 was conducted. Results: In total, 11 papers were included for review. AI was applied to COVID-19 in four areas: diagnosis, public health, clinical decision making, and therapeutics. We identified several limitations including insufficient data, omission of multimodal methods of AI-based assessment, delay in realization of benefits, poor internal/external validation, inability to be used by laypersons, inability to be used in resource-poor settings, presence of ethical pitfalls, and presence of legal barriers. AI could potentially be explored in four other areas: surveillance, combination with big data, operation of other core clinical services, and management of patients with COVID-19. Conclusions: In view of the continuing increase in the number of cases, and given that multiple waves of infections may occur, there is a need for effective methods to help control the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite its shortcomings, AI holds the potential to greatly augment existing human efforts, which may otherwise be overwhelmed by high patient numbers.

  • Source: Unsplash; Copyright: Benjamin Dada; URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/EDZTb2SQ6j0; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Investigating the Prevalence of Reactive Online Searching in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Infoveillance Study

    Abstract:

    Background: The ongoing pandemic has placed an unprecedented strain on global society, health care, governments, and mass media. Public dissemination of government policies, medical interventions, and misinformation has been remarkably rapid and largely unregulated during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in increased misinterpretations, miscommunication, and public panic. Being the first full-scale global pandemic of the digital age, COVID-19 has presented novel challenges pertinent to government advice, the spread of news and misinformation, and the trade-off between the accessibility of science and the premature public use of unproven medical interventions.  Objective: This study aims to assess the use of internet search terms relating to COVID-19 information and misinformation during the global pandemic, identify which were most used in six affected countries, investigate any temporal trends and the likely propagators of key search terms, and determine any correlation between the per capita cases and deaths with the adoption of these search terms in each of the six countries. Methods: This study uses relative search volume data extracted from Google Trends for search terms linked to the COVID-19 pandemic alongside per capita case and mortality data extracted from the European Open Data Portal to identify the temporal dynamics of the spread of news and misinformation during the global pandemic in six affected countries (Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States). A correlation analysis was carried out to ascertain any correlation between the temporal trends of search term use and the rise of per capita mortality and disease cases. Results: Of the selected search terms, most were searched immediately following promotion by governments, public figures, or viral circulation of information, but also in relation to the publication of scientific resources, which were sometimes misinterpreted before further dissemination. Strong correlations were identified between the volume of these COVID-19–related search terms (overall mean Spearman rho 0.753, SD 0.158), and per capita mortality (mean per capita deaths Spearman rho 0.690, SD 0.168) and cases (mean per capita cases Spearman rho 0.800, SD 0.112). Conclusions: These findings illustrate the increased rate and volume of the public consumption of novel information during a global health care crisis. The positive correlation between mortality and online searching, particularly in countries with lower COVID-19 testing rates, may demonstrate the imperative to safeguard official communications and dispel misinformation in these countries. Online news, government briefings, and social media provide a powerful tool for the dissemination of important information to the public during pandemics, but their misuse and the presentation of misrepresented medical information should be monitored, minimized, and addressed to safeguard public safety. Ultimately, governments, public health authorities, and scientists have a moral imperative to safeguard the truth and maintain an accessible discourse with the public to limit fear.

  • Source: freepik; Copyright: ijeab; URL: https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/doctor-working-with-laptop-computer-writing-paperwork-hospital-background_1211564.htm#page=3&query=doctor+computer&position=17; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Correlation of Online Physician Rating Subscores and Association With Overall Satisfaction: Observational Study of 212,933 Providers

    Abstract:

    Background: Online physician rating websites commonly ask consumers to rate providers across multiple physician-based (eg, spending sufficient time, listening) and office-based (eg, appointment scheduling, friendliness) subdimensions of care in addition to overall satisfaction. However, it is unclear if consumers can differentiate between the various rated subdimensions of physicians. It is also unclear how each subdimension is related to overall satisfaction. Objective: The objectives of our study were to determine the correlation of physician-based and office-based subdimensions of care and the association of each with overall satisfaction. Methods: We sampled 212,933 providers from the Healthgrades website and calculated average provider metrics for overall satisfaction (likelihood to recommend doctor), physician-based subdimensions (trust in physician, ability to explain, ability to listen and answer questions, and spending adequate time), and office-based subdimensions (ease of scheduling, office environment, staff friendliness, and wait time). We used Spearman rank correlation to assess correlation between subdimension ratings. Factor analysis was used to identify potential latent factors predicting overall satisfaction. Univariate and multivariable linear regression were performed to assess the effect of physician and office-based factors on overall satisfaction. Results: Physician-based metrics were highly correlated with each other (r=.95 to .98, P<.001), as were office-based metrics (r=.84 to .88, P<.001). Correlations between physician-based and office-based ratings were less robust (r=.79 to .81, P<.001). Factor analysis identified two factors, clearly distinguishing between physician-based metrics (factor loading = 0.84 to 0.88) and office-based metrics (factor loading = 0.76 to 0.84). In multivariable linear regression analysis, the composite factor representing physician-based metrics (0.65, 95% CI 0.65 to 0.65) was more strongly associated with overall satisfaction than the factor representing office-based metrics (0.42, 95% CI 0.42 to 0.42). These factors eclipsed other demographic variables in predicting overall satisfaction. Conclusions: Consumers do not differentiate between commonly assessed subdimensions of physician-based care or subdimensions of office-based care, but composite factors representing these broader categories are associated with overall satisfaction. These findings argue for a simpler ratings system based on two metrics: one addressing physician-based aspects of care and another addressing office-based aspects of care.

  • Daily steps of residents in Changsha dropped rapidly and substantially during the COVID-19 epidemic period. Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: Yilun Wang; URL: http://www.jmir.org/2020/10/e21632/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Physical Distancing Measures and Walking Activity in Middle-aged and Older Residents in Changsha, China, During the COVID-19 Epidemic Period: Longitudinal...

    Abstract:

    Background: Physical distancing measures taken to contain COVID-19 transmission may substantially reduce physical activity levels and cause individuals to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle. Objective: The objective of this study is to determine if there was any change in daily steps, an important component of daily physical activity, and examine risk factors for frequent low daily steps during the COVID-19 epidemic. Methods: We used data collected from the Step Study, a population-based longitudinal study of walking activity among residents aged ≥40 years in Changsha, China. Daily steps were collected via a smartphone linked to WeChat, a social networking platform. We plotted mean daily steps and the prevalence of low daily steps (≤1500 steps/day) 30 days before (reference period) and 30 days after (epidemic period) January 21, 2020 (date of the first COVID-19 case diagnosed in Changsha), and compared it with the same corresponding period from 2019. We examined the association of risk factors with the prevalence of frequent low daily steps (≤1500 steps/day for ≥14 days) using logistic regression. Results: Among 3544 participants (mean age 51.6 years; n=1226 females, 34.6%), mean daily steps dropped from 8097 to 5440 and the prevalence of low daily steps increased from 3% (2287/76,136 person-day) to 18.5% (12,951/70,183 person-day) during the reference and epidemic periods, respectively. No such phenomenon was observed during the corresponding period in 2019. Older age (P for interaction=.001) and female sex (P for interaction<.001) were both associated with a higher prevalence of frequent low daily steps and were more pronounced during the epidemic period. More education was associated with a lower prevalence of frequent low daily steps during the reference period but not the epidemic period (P for interaction=.34). Body mass index or comorbidity were not associated with frequent low daily steps during either period. Conclusions: Daily steps of Changsha residents aged ≥40 years dropped significantly during the COVID-19 period, especially among older adults and females. Although successful physical distancing, measured by the rapid downward trend in daily step counts of residents, played a critical role in the containment of the COVID-19 epidemic, our findings of an increase in the prevalence of frequent low daily steps raise concerns about unintended effects on physical activity.

  • Source: Unsplash; Copyright: National Cancer Institute; URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/cQ8FfVNvbew; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    The Role of Social Media in Enhancing Clinical Trial Recruitment: Scoping Review

    Abstract:

    Background: Recruiting participants into clinical trials continues to be a challenge, which can result in study delay or termination. Recent studies have used social media to enhance recruitment outcomes. An assessment of the literature on the use of social media for this purpose is required. Objective: This study aims to answer the following questions: (1) How is the use of social media, in combination with traditional approaches to enhance clinical trial recruitment and enrollment, represented in the literature? and (2) Do the data on recruitment and enrollment outcomes presented in the literature allow for comparison across studies? Methods: We conducted a comprehensive literature search across 7 platforms to identify clinical trials that combined social media and traditional methods to recruit patients. Study and participant characteristics, recruitment methods, and recruitment outcomes were evaluated and compared. Results: We identified 2371 titles and abstracts through our systematic search. Of these, we assessed 95 full papers and determined that 33 studies met the inclusion criteria. A total of 17 studies reported enrollment outcomes, of which 9 achieved or exceeded their enrollment target. The proportion of participants enrolled from social media in these studies ranged from 0% to 49%. Across all 33 studies, the proportion of participants recruited and enrolled from social media varied greatly. A total of 9 studies reported higher enrollment rates from social media than any other methods, and 4 studies reported the lowest cost per enrolled participant from social media. Conclusions: While the assessment of the use of social media to improve clinical trial participation is hindered by reporting inconsistencies, preliminary data suggest that social media can increase participation and reduce per-participant cost. The adoption of consistent standards for reporting recruitment and enrollment outcomes is required to advance our understanding and use of social media to support clinical trial success.

  • Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL: http://www.jmir.org/2020/10/e22324/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Efficacy of Electronic Acupuncture Shoes for Chronic Low Back Pain: Double-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial

    Abstract:

    Background: Chronic low back pain is a common problem and is associated with high costs, including those related to health care and indirect costs due to absence at work or reduced productivity. Previous studies have demonstrated that acupuncture or electroacupuncture can relieve low back pain. Electronic acupuncture shoes (EAS) are a novel device designed in this study. This device combines the properties of acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for clinical use. Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of EAS in patients with chronic low back pain. Methods: In this prospective double-blinded randomized controlled study, the data of 83 patients who experienced chronic low back pain were analyzed. Patients came to our clinic for 20 visits and underwent assessment and treatment. Patients were randomly allocated to receive either EAS plus placebo nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (EAS group, n=42) or sham EAS plus NSAIDs (NSAID group, n=41). The visual analog scale (VAS) score and range of motion were assessed at baseline, before and after each EAS treatment, and 2 weeks after the last treatment. The time for achieving pain remission was recorded. Quality of life was assessed at the 2nd, 14th, and 20th visits. Results: After 6 weeks of treatment, the treatment success rate in each visit in the EAS group was higher than that in the NSAID group, as revealed by the intention-to-treat (ITT) and per-protocol (PP) analyses, but significant differences were observed only during the 16th visit in the ITT analysis (EAS group: 31/37, 84% and NSAID group: 21/34, 62%; P=.04). The change in the VAS score from baseline in each visit in the EAS group was greater than that in the NSAID group, as revealed by the ITT and PP analyses, and significant differences were observed in the 5th visit and 9th visit in the ITT analysis (P=.048 and P=.048, respectively). Significant differences were observed in the left rotation in the 2nd visit and 4th visit (P=.049 and P=.03, respectively). No significant differences were observed in the VAS score before and after treatment in each visit and in the quality of life in both groups. Conclusions: EAS might serve as a reliable alternative therapeutic tool for patients with chronic low back pain who are contraindicated for oral NSAIDs. Clinical Trial: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02468297 https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02468297

  • Source: Image created by the Authors/iStock; Copyright: The Authors/fad1986; URL: https://www.istockphoto.com/vector/technology-devices-and-electronic-gadgets-with-transparent-screen-gm802963440-130283379; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Digital Pain Mapping and Tracking in Patients With Chronic Pain: Longitudinal Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Digital pain mapping allows for remote and ecological momentary assessment in patients over multiple time points spanning days to months. Frequent ecological assessments may reveal tendencies and fluctuations more clearly and provide insights into the trajectory of a patient’s pain. Objective: The primary aim of this study is to remotely map and track the intensity and distribution of pain and discomfort (eg, burning, aching, and tingling) in patients with nonmalignant spinal referred pain over 12 weeks using a web-based app for digital pain mapping. The secondary aim is to explore the barriers of use by determining the differences in clinical and user characteristics between patients with good (regular users) and poor (nonregular users) reporting compliance. Methods: Patients (N=91; n=53 women) with spinal referred pain were recruited using web-based and traditional in-house strategies. Patients were asked to submit weekly digital pain reports for 12 weeks. Each pain report consisted of digital pain drawings on a pseudo–three-dimensional body chart and pain intensity ratings. The pain drawings captured the distribution of pain and discomfort (pain quality descriptors) expressed as the total extent and location. Differences in weekly pain reports were explored using the total extent (pixels), current and usual pain intensity ratings, frequency of quality descriptor selection, and Jaccard similarity index. Validated e-questionnaires were completed at baseline to determine the patients’ characteristics (adapted Danish National Spine Register), disability (Oswestry Disability Index and Neck Disability Index), and pain catastrophizing (Pain Catastrophizing Scale) profiles. Barriers of use were assessed at 6 weeks using a health care–related usability and acceptance e-questionnaire and a self-developed technology-specific e-questionnaire to assess the accessibility and ease of access of the pain mapping app. Associations between total extent, pain intensity, disability, and catastrophizing were explored to further understand pain. Differences between regular and nonregular users were assessed to understand the pain mapping app reporting compliance. Results: Fluctuations were identified in pain reports for total extent and pain intensity ratings (P<.001). However, quality descriptor selection (P=.99) and pain drawing (P=.49), compared using the Jaccard index, were similar over time. Interestingly, current pain intensity was greater than usual pain intensity (P<.001), suggesting that the timing of pain reporting coincided with a more intense pain experience than usual. Usability and acceptance were similar between regular and nonregular users. Regular users were younger (P<.001) and reported a larger total extent of pain than nonregular users (P<.001). Conclusions: This is the first study to examine digital reports of pain intensity and distribution in patients with nonmalignant spinal referred pain remotely for a sustained period and barriers of use and compliance using a digital pain mapping app. Differences in age, pain distribution, and current pain intensity may influence reporting behavior and compliance.

  • Source: Image created by the Authors/Placeit; Copyright: The Authors/Placeit; URL: http://www.jmir.org/2020/10/e20619; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    The Abortion Web Ecosystem: Cross-Sectional Analysis of Trustworthiness and Bias

    Abstract:

    Background: People use the internet as a primary source for learning about medical procedures and their associated safety profiles and risks. Although abortion is one of the most common procedures worldwide among women in their reproductive years, it is controversial and highly politicized. Substantial scientific evidence demonstrates that abortion is safe and does not increase a woman’s future risk for depressive disorders or infertility. The extent to which information found on the internet reflects these medical facts in a trustworthy and unbiased manner is not known. Objective: The purpose of this study was to collate and describe the trustworthiness and political slant or bias of web-based information about abortion safety and risks of depression and infertility following abortion. Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of internet websites using 3 search topics: (1) is abortion safe?, (2) does abortion cause depression?, and (3) does abortion cause infertility? We used the Google Adwords tool to identify the search terms most associated with those topics and Google’s search engine to generate databases of websites related to each topic. We then classified and rated each website in terms of content slant (pro-choice, neutral, anti-choice), clarity of slant (obvious, in-between, or difficult/can’t tell), trustworthiness (rating scale of 1-5, 5=most trustworthy), type (forum, feature, scholarly article, resource page, news article, blog, or video), and top-level domain (.com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov, or international domain). We compared website characteristics by search topic (safety, depression, or infertility) using bivariate tests. We summarized trustworthiness using the median and IQR, and we used box-and-whisker plots to visually compare trustworthiness by slant and domain type. Results: Our search methods yielded a total of 111, 120, and 85 unique sites for safety, depression, and infertility, respectively. Of all the sites (n=316), 57.3% (181/316) were neutral, 35.4% (112/316) were anti-choice, and 7.3% (23/316) were pro-choice. The median trustworthiness score was 2.7 (IQR 1.7-3.7), which did not differ significantly across topics (P=.409). Anti-choice sites were less trustworthy (median score 1.3, IQR 1.0-1.7) than neutral (median score 3.3, IQR 2.7-4.0) and pro-choice (median score 3.7, IQR 3.3-4.3) sites. Anti-choice sites were also more likely to have slant clarity that was “difficult to tell” (41/112, 36.6%) compared with neutral (25/181, 13.8%) or pro-choice (4/23, 17.4%; P<.001) sites. A negative search term used for the topic of safety (eg, “risks”) produced sites with lower trustworthiness scores than search terms with the word “safety” (median score 1.7 versus 3.7, respectively; P<.001). Conclusions: People seeking information about the safety and potential risks of abortion are likely to encounter a substantial amount of untrustworthy and slanted/biased abortion information. Anti-choice sites are prevalent, often difficult to identify as anti-choice, and less trustworthy than neutral or pro-choice sites. Web searches may lead the public to believe abortion is riskier than it is.

  • Source: Pixabay; Copyright: SharonMcCutcheon; URL: https://www.pikrepo.com/frftu/woman-with-blonde-hair-looking-down; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Public Interest in Acne on the Internet: Comparison of Search Information From Google Trends and Naver

    Abstract:

    Background: Acne vulgaris is a common skin disease primarily affecting young adults. Given that the internet has become a major source of health information, especially among the young, the internet is a powerful tool of communication and has a significant influence on patients. Objective: This study aimed to clarify the features of patients’ interest in and evaluate the quality of information about acne vulgaris on the internet. Methods: We compared the search volumes on acne vulgaris with those of other dermatological diseases using Google Trends from January 2004 to August 2019. We also determined the search volumes for relevant keywords of acne vulgaris on Google and Naver and evaluated the quality of answers to the queries in KnowledgeiN. Results: The regression analysis of Google Trends data demonstrated that the patients’ interest in acne vulgaris was higher than that for other dermatological diseases, such as atopic dermatitis (β=−20.33, 95% CI –22.27 to –18.39, P<.001) and urticaria (β=−27.09, 95% CI –29.03 to –25.15, P<.001) and has increased yearly (β=2.38, 95% CI 2.05 to 2.71, P<.001). The search volume for acne vulgaris was significantly higher in the summer than in the spring (β=–5.04, 95% CI –9.21 to –0.88, P=.018) and on weekends than on weekdays (β=–6.68, 95% CI –13.18 to –0.18, P=.044). The most frequently searched relevant keywords with “acne vulgaris” and “cause” were “stress,” “food,” and “cosmetics.” Among food, the 2 highest acne vulgaris–related keywords were milk and wheat in Naver and coffee and ramen in Google. The queries in Naver KnowledgeiN were mostly answered by a Korean traditional medicine doctor (53.4%) or the public (33.6%), but only 12.0% by dermatologists. Conclusions: Physicians should be aware of patients’ interest in and beliefs about acne vulgaris to provide the best patient education and care, both online and in the clinic.

  • Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL: http://www.jmir.org/2020/10/e21238/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Development and Evaluation of a Digital Intervention for Fulfilling the Needs of Older Migrant Patients With Cancer: User-Centered Design Approach

    Abstract:

    Background: Older migrant patients with cancer face many language- and culture-related barriers to patient participation during medical consultations. To bridge these barriers, an eHealth tool called Health Communicator was developed in the Netherlands. Essentially used as a digital translator that can collect medical history information from patients, the Health Communicator did not include an oncological module so far, despite the fact that the prevalence of Dutch migrant patients with cancer is rising. Objective: This study aims to systematically develop, implement, and conduct a pilot evaluation of an oncological module that can be integrated into the Health Communicator to stimulate patient participation among older Turkish-Dutch and Moroccan-Dutch patients with cancer. Methods: The Spiral Technology Action Research model, which incorporates 5 cycles that engage key stakeholders in intervention development, was used as a framework. The listen phase consisted of a needs assessment. The plan phase consisted of developing the content of the oncological module, namely the question prompt lists (QPLs) and scripts for patient education videos. On the basis of pretests in the do phase, 6 audiovisual QPLs on patient rights, treatment, psychosocial support, lifestyle and access to health care services, patient preferences, and clinical trials were created. Additionally, 5 patient education videos were created about patient rights, psychosocial support, clinical trials, and patient-professional communication. In the study phase, the oncological module was pilot-tested among 27 older Turkish-Dutch and Moroccan-Dutch patients with cancer during their consultations. In the act phase, the oncological model was disseminated to practice. Results: The patient rights QPL was chosen most often during the pilot testing in the study phase. Patients and health care professionals perceived the QPLs as easy to understand and useful. There was a negative correlation between the tool’s ease of use and patient age. Patients reported that using the module impacted the consultations positively and thought they were more active compared with previous consultations. Health care professionals also found patients to be more active than usual. Health care professionals asked significantly more questions than patients during consultations. Patients requested to see the patients’ rights video most often. Patients rated the videos as easy to understand, useful, and informative. Most of the patients wanted to use the tool in the future. Conclusions: Older migrant patients with cancer, survivors, and health care professionals found the oncological module to be a useful tool and have shown intentions to incorporate it into future consultation sessions. Both QPLs and videos were evaluated positively, the latter indicating that the use of narratives to inform older, low-literate migrant patients with cancer about health-related topics in their mother tongue is a viable approach to increase the effectiveness of health care communication with this target group.

  • Professional consultation. Source: freepik; Copyright: pressfoto; URL: https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/professional-consultation_5402287.htm#page=2&query=patient+doctor+talking&position=1; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Authors’ Reply to: Is a Ratio Scale Assumption for Physician Ratings Justified? Comment on “What Patients Value in Physicians: Analyzing Drivers of...

    Abstract:

  • Source: Unsplash; Copyright: Irwan iwe; URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/rbDE93-0hHs; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Federated Learning on Clinical Benchmark Data: Performance Assessment

    Abstract:

    Background: Federated learning (FL) is a newly proposed machine-learning method that uses a decentralized dataset. Since data transfer is not necessary for the learning process in FL, there is a significant advantage in protecting personal privacy. Therefore, many studies are being actively conducted in the applications of FL for diverse areas. Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the reliability and performance of FL using three benchmark datasets, including a clinical benchmark dataset. Methods: To evaluate FL in a realistic setting, we implemented FL using a client-server architecture with Python. The implemented client-server version of the FL software was deployed to Amazon Web Services. Modified National Institute of Standards and Technology (MNIST), Medical Information Mart for Intensive Care-III (MIMIC-III), and electrocardiogram (ECG) datasets were used to evaluate the performance of FL. To test FL in a realistic setting, the MNIST dataset was split into 10 different clients, with one digit for each client. In addition, we conducted four different experiments according to basic, imbalanced, skewed, and a combination of imbalanced and skewed data distributions. We also compared the performance of FL to that of the state-of-the-art method with respect to in-hospital mortality using the MIMIC-III dataset. Likewise, we conducted experiments comparing basic and imbalanced data distributions using MIMIC-III and ECG data. Results: FL on the basic MNIST dataset with 10 clients achieved an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) of 0.997 and an F1-score of 0.946. The experiment with the imbalanced MNIST dataset achieved an AUROC of 0.995 and an F1-score of 0.921. The experiment with the skewed MNIST dataset achieved an AUROC of 0.992 and an F1-score of 0.905. Finally, the combined imbalanced and skewed experiment achieved an AUROC of 0.990 and an F1-score of 0.891. The basic FL on in-hospital mortality using MIMIC-III data achieved an AUROC of 0.850 and an F1-score of 0.944, while the experiment with the imbalanced MIMIC-III dataset achieved an AUROC of 0.850 and an F1-score of 0.943. For ECG classification, the basic FL achieved an AUROC of 0.938 and an F1-score of 0.807, and the imbalanced ECG dataset achieved an AUROC of 0.943 and an F1-score of 0.807. Conclusions: FL demonstrated comparative performance on different benchmark datasets. In addition, FL demonstrated reliable performance in cases where the distribution was imbalanced, skewed, and extreme, reflecting the real-life scenario in which data distributions from various hospitals are different. FL can achieve high performance while maintaining privacy protection because there is no requirement to centralize the data.

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    Date Submitted: Oct 6, 2020

    Open Peer Review Period: Oct 27, 2020 - Dec 27, 2020

    Background: Lightweight portable ultrasound is widely available, especially in inaccessible geographical areas. It demonstrates effectiveness and diagnosis improvement even in field conditions but no...

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    Open Peer Review Period: Oct 26, 2020 - Dec 26, 2020

    Background: Although technology promises to solve the challenge of targeting and tailoring interventions to the individual; engagement with technology is low among minority communities. Health coaches...

    Background: Although technology promises to solve the challenge of targeting and tailoring interventions to the individual; engagement with technology is low among minority communities. Health coaches enhance engagement with technology but results vary Objective: We explored the role of coach and participant characteristics and their interactions on successful engagement with technology for self-management skills acquisition in high risk diabetics Methods: This was a clinical implementation study. Longitudinal data and transcripts of participant-coach interactions were taken from a study evaluating the impact of Health 360x and coaching on self-management skills acquisition;as part of care coordination in the Morehouse Choice Accountable Care Organization (MCACO). Topic modeling, a natural language processing method that reliably uncovers conversation topics was used. Structural topic modeling allowed us to include metadata into our analysis. We validated the output by identifying topics based on high characteristic words, manually verifying highest scoring talk turns and labeling topics, logging example conversations. We used mixed effects logistic regression to quantify participant and coach characteristics and interactions Results: We identified 17,000 talk turns; 7196 in the ‘achieved’ group and 9,644 in the ‘not achieved’ group. There were important differences in the content of highest scoring topics depending on whether the coach-participant dyad achieved their goals or did not achieve their goal. The conversations in the coach-participant dyads who achieved their health goals were balanced versus in the ‘not achieved’ where the coaches tended to dominate the conversation. Female participants with female coaches were significantly more likely to achieve their health goals. Goal setting alone had a negative impact on attaining desired outcomes. Conclusions: Among diabetic patients who received the health 360x coach facilitated technology intervention for self management behavior change; i)Goal setting requires additional interventions in order to lead to improved outcomes ii)coach participant dyads who achieved behavioral goals, engaged in balanced conversational exchanges iii) better performance among female-female participant coach dyads may indicate cultural expectations that can be further explored in a society with growing diversity among patients and the healthcare workforce. Our use of topic modeling in this application is novel and it creates an opportunity to introduce this technique into every day patient provider encounters. The opportunity to create outputs that guide further physician action and patient action could drive better patient engagement and overall patient health outcomes. Clinical Trial: Not applicable

  • Usability of Telemedicine in Physical Therapy Rehabilitation

    Date Submitted: Oct 25, 2020

    Open Peer Review Period: Oct 25, 2020 - Dec 25, 2020

    The term ‘Telemedicine’ was coined in the 1970s to literally imply ‘healing at a distance’. Physical therapy rehabilitation (PTR) focuses on the re-institution of function in bodily strength a...

    The term ‘Telemedicine’ was coined in the 1970s to literally imply ‘healing at a distance’. Physical therapy rehabilitation (PTR) focuses on the re-institution of function in bodily strength and movement. Covid-19 has created a challenge in one-on-one PTR session due to social distancing, which requires the minimization of all non-essential physical contact. Most outpatient services in PTR have had to be staggered and minimized to increase adherence to social distancing requirements and flatten the pandemic’s curve. Telemedicine is applicable in PTR in a number of ways, including guided therapy sessions, and remote monitoring of patient progress through videoconferencing. Telemedicine allows patients to access PTR from the comfort of their homes, which minimizes travel costs and general strain on the body. Although it has been encumbered by various challenges, telemedicine could revolutionize the delivery of PTR wile also increasing access to the essential healthcare service.

  • “A question of trust” and “a leap of faith”: A qualitative study of participants’ perspectives on consent, privacy and trust in smart home research

    Date Submitted: Oct 23, 2020

    Open Peer Review Period: Oct 23, 2020 - Dec 18, 2020

    Background: ‘Ubiquitous’, ‘smart’ computing technology has the potential to assist humans in numerous ways, including health and social care. Covid-19 has notably hastened the move to remote d...

    Background: ‘Ubiquitous’, ‘smart’ computing technology has the potential to assist humans in numerous ways, including health and social care. Covid-19 has notably hastened the move to remote delivery of many health services, such as Primary Care. Development of technology involves a variety of stakeholders in the process of testing, refinement, and evaluation. Where stakeholders are research participants, this poses both practical and ethical challenges, particularly if the research is situated in people’s homes. Researchers must observe prima facie ethical obligations linked to participants’ interests in having their autonomy and privacy respected. Objective: This research explores ethical considerations around consent, privacy, anonymisation and data-sharing with participants involved in SPHERE, a project developing smart technology for monitoring people’s health behaviours in their homes. Their unique insights from being part of this unusual experiment offers a valuable perspective on how to properly approach informed consent for future research. Methods: Semi-structured qualitative interviews with whole households (adults and children) were conducted with 7 households/16 participants recruited from SPHERE. Purposive sampling was used to invite participants from a range of household types and ages. Interviews were conducted in participants’ homes or on-site at the University of Bristol. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and then thematically analysed. Results: Four themes were identified: (1) motivations for participating; (2) transparency, understanding and consent; (3) privacy, anonymity and data use; and (4) trust in research. Motivations to participate in SPHERE stemmed from an altruistic desire to support research directed towards the public good. Participants were satisfied with the SPHERE consent process despite reporting some difficulties: recalling and understanding information received; the timing and amount of information provision; and sometimes finding the information to be abstract. Participants were also satisfied that privacy was assured and judged that reasons for conducting the research compensated for threats to privacy. Participants trusted the project and the team. Factors relevant to developing and maintaining this trust were the trustworthiness of the research team, provision of necessary information, the control participants had over participation, and positive prior experiences of research involvement. Conclusions: This small study offers valuable insights into the perspectives of participants in smart home research on important ethical considerations around consent and privacy. The findings might have practical implications for future research regarding the types of information researchers should convey, the extent to which anonymity can be assured, and the long-term duty of care owed to participants who place trust in researchers not only on the basis of this information, but also because of their institutional affiliation. This study highlights important ethical implications: although autonomy matters, trust appears to matter most. Researchers should therefore be alert to the need to foster and maintain trust, particularly as failing to do so might have deleterious effects on future research.

  • Interoperable HL7 FHIR platform to report PCR SARS-CoV-2 tests from laboratories to the Chilean government

    Date Submitted: Oct 22, 2020

    Open Peer Review Period: Oct 19, 2020 - Oct 29, 2020

    Background: Testing, traceability, and the isolation (TTI strategy) actions are a central strategy defined by WHO to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. In this sense, countries have had difficulties in co...

    Background: Testing, traceability, and the isolation (TTI strategy) actions are a central strategy defined by WHO to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. In this sense, countries have had difficulties in counting the number of people infected with SARS-CoV-2. Errors in reporting results are a common factor as well as the lack of interoperability between laboratories and governments. Approaches aimed at sending spreadsheets via email expose patients' privacy and have increased the probability of errors due to re-typing and generate a delay in the notification of results. Objective: Design and develop an interoperable platform to report PCR SARS-CoV-2 tests from laboratories to the Chilean government. Methods: The methodology to design and develop the interoperable platform was comprised of six well-structured stages: 1) Creation of a minimum dataset to PCR SARS-CoV-2 tests, 2) Modeling process and endpoints where institutions interchange information, 3) Standards and interoperability design, 4) Software development, 5) Quality assurance and 6) Software implementation. Results: The main result was the interoperable FHIR platform to report PCR SARS-CoV-2 tests from laboratories to the Chilean government. The platform was designed, developed, tested, and implemented following a structured methodology. The platform's performance to 1,000 requests resulted in a response time of 240 milliseconds, throughput was 28.3 requests per second, and the process management time was 131 milliseconds. The platform has availability of 99.9 %. The security was implemented with JSON Web Token (JWT) to ensure confidentiality, authorization, and authentication. All the PCR SARS-CoV-2 tests were accessible through an Application Programming Interface (API) gateway with valid credentials and the right access control list. Conclusions: The platform was implemented and is currently being used by UC Christus Laboratory. The platform is secure. It was tested adequately for confidentiality, secure authorization, authentication, and message integrity. This platform simplifies the reporting of PCR SARS-CoV-2 tests and reduces the time and probability of mistakes in counting positive cases. The interoperable solution with FHIR is working successfully and is open for the community, laboratories, and any institution that needs to report PCR SARS-CoV-2 tests.

  • Novel Machine-Learned Approach for COVID-19 Resource Allocation: A Tool for Evaluating Community Susceptibility

    Date Submitted: Oct 19, 2020

    Open Peer Review Period: Oct 19, 2020 - Dec 14, 2020

    Background: Despite worldwide efforts to develop an effective COVID vaccine, it is quite evident that initial supplies will be limited. Therefore, it is important to develop methods that will ensure t...

    Background: Despite worldwide efforts to develop an effective COVID vaccine, it is quite evident that initial supplies will be limited. Therefore, it is important to develop methods that will ensure that the COVID vaccine is allocated to the people who are at major risk until there is a sufficient global supply. Objective: The purpose of this study was to develop a machine-learning tool that could be applied to assess the risk in Massachusetts towns based on community-wide social, medical, and lifestyle risk factors. Methods: I compiled Massachusetts town data for 29 potential risk factors, such as the prevalence of preexisting comorbid conditions like COPD and social factors such as racial composition, and implemented logistic regression to predict the amount of COVID cases in each town. Results: Of the 29 factors, 14 were found to be significant (p < 0.1) indicators: poverty, food insecurity, lack of high school education, lack of health insurance coverage, premature mortality, population, population density, recent population growth, Asian percentage, high-occupancy housing, and preexisting prevalence of cancer, COPD, overweightness, and heart attacks. The machine-learning approach is 80% accurate in the state of Massachusetts and finds the 9 highest risk communities: Lynn, Brockton, Revere, Randolph, Lowell, New Bedford, Everett, Waltham, and Fitchburg. The 5 most at-risk counties are Suffolk, Middlesex, Bristol, Norfolk, and Plymouth. Conclusions: With appropriate data, the tool could evaluate risk in other communities, or even enumerate individual patient susceptibility. A ranking of communities by risk may help policymakers ensure equitable allocation of limited doses of the COVID vaccine.

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