Prospects and challenges for clinical decision support in the era of big data

JCO Clin Cancer Inform. 2018:2:CCI.18.00002. doi: 10.1200/CCI.18.00002. Epub 2018 Nov 9.


Recently, there has been burgeoning interest in developing more effective and robust clinical decision support systems (CDSSs) for oncology. This has been primarily driven by the demands for more personalized and precise medical practice in oncology in the era of so-called Big Data (BD); an era that promises to harness the power of large-scale data flow to revolutionize cancer treatment. This interest in BD analytics has created new opportunities as well as new unmet challenges. These include: routine aggregation and standardization of clinical data; patient privacy; transformation of current analytical approaches to handle such noisy and heterogeneous data; and expanded use of advanced statistical learning methods based on confluence of modern statistical methods and machine learning algorithms. In this review, we present the current status of CDSSs in oncology, the prospects and current challenges of BD analytics, and the promising role of integrated modern statistics and machine learning algorithms in predicting complex clinical endpoints, individualizing treatment rules, and optimizing dynamic personalized treatment regimens. We discuss issues pertaining to these topics and present application examples from an aggregate of experiences. We also discuss the role of human factors in improving the utilization and acceptance of such enhanced CDSSs and how to mitigate possible sources of human error to achieve optimal performance and wider acceptance.

Keywords: Decision support; big data; machine learning; modern statistics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Big Data*
  • Data Mining
  • Data Science / standards*
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical / standards*
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning
  • Medical Oncology / standards*
  • Medical Oncology / trends
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Precision Medicine
  • User-Computer Interface