The universal adoption of electronic health records, improvement in technology, and the availability of continuous monitoring has generated large quantities of healthcare data. Machine learning is increasingly adopted by nephrology researchers to analyze this data in order to improve the care of their patients.
In this review, we provide a broad overview of the different types of machine learning algorithms currently available and how researchers have applied these methods in nephrology research. Current applications have included prediction of acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease along with progression of kidney disease. Researchers have demonstrated the ability of machine learning to read kidney biopsy samples, identify patient outcomes from unstructured data, and identify subtypes in complex diseases. We end with a discussion on the ethics and potential pitfalls of machine learning.
Machine learning provides researchers with the ability to analyze data that were previously inaccessible. While still burgeoning, several studies show promising results, which will enable researchers to perform larger scale studies and clinicians the ability to provide more personalized care. However, we must ensure that implementation aids providers and does not lead to harm to patients.