Applications of Federated Learning in Mobile Health: Scoping Review

Tongnian Wang, Yan Du, Yanmin Gong, Kim Kwang Raymond Choo, Yuanxiong Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The proliferation of mobile health (mHealth) applications is partly driven by the advancements in sensing and communication technologies, as well as the integration of artificial intelligence techniques. Data collected from mHealth applications, for example, on sensor devices carried by patients, can be mined and analyzed using artificial intelligence–based solutions to facilitate remote and (near) real-time decision-making in health care settings. However, such data often sit in data silos, and patients are often concerned about the privacy implications of sharing their raw data. Federated learning (FL) is a potential solution, as it allows multiple data owners to collaboratively train a machine learning model without requiring access to each other’s raw data. Objective: The goal of this scoping review is to gain an understanding of FL and its potential in dealing with sensitive and heterogeneous data in mHealth applications. Through this review, various stakeholders, such as health care providers, practitioners, and policy makers, can gain insight into the limitations and challenges associated with using FL in mHealth and make informed decisions when considering implementing FL-based solutions. Methods: We conducted a scoping review following the guidelines of PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Extension for Scoping Reviews). We searched 7 commonly used databases. The included studies were analyzed and summarized to identify the possible real-world applications and associated challenges of using FL in mHealth settings. Results: A total of 1095 articles were retrieved during the database search, and 26 articles that met the inclusion criteria were included in the review. The analysis of these articles revealed 2 main application areas for FL in mHealth, that is, remote monitoring and diagnostic and treatment support. More specifically, FL was found to be commonly used for monitoring self-care ability, health status, and disease progression, as well as in diagnosis and treatment support of diseases. The review also identified several challenges (eg, expensive communication, statistical heterogeneity, and system heterogeneity) and potential solutions (eg, compression schemes, model personalization, and active sampling). Conclusions: This scoping review has highlighted the potential of FL as a privacy-preserving approach in mHealth applications and identified the technical limitations associated with its use. The challenges and opportunities outlined in this review can inform the research agenda for future studies in this field, to overcome these limitations and further advance the use of FL in mHealth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere43006
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume25
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Keywords

  • decision support
  • distributed systems
  • federated learning
  • health monitoring
  • mHealth
  • privacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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