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Adapting Reinforcement Learning Treatment Policies Using Limited Data to Personalize Critical Care...

by Matthew Baucum, Anahita Khojandi, Rama K Vasudevan, Robert Davis
Publication Type
Journal Name
INFORMS Journal on Data Science
Publication Date
Page Numbers
27 to 49

Reinforcement learning (RL) demonstrates promise for developing effective treatment policies in critical care settings. However, existing RL methods often require large and comprehensive patient data sets and do not readily lend themselves to settings in which certain patient subpopulations are severely underrepresented. In this study, we develop a new method, noisy Bayesian policy updates (NBPU), for selecting high-performing reinforcement learning–based treatment policies for underrepresented patient subpopulations using limited observations. Our method uses variational inference to learn a probability distribution over treatment policies based on a reference patient subpopulation for which sufficient data are available. It then exploits limited data from an underrepresented patient subpopulation to update this probability distribution and adapts its recommendations to this subpopulation. We demonstrate our method’s utility on a data set of ICU patients receiving intravenous blood anticoagulant medication. Our results show that NBPU outperforms state-of-the-art methods in terms of both selecting effective treatment policies for patients with nontypical clinical characteristics and predicting the corresponding policies’ performance for these patients.