Google Research

Robust and Efficient Medical Imaging with Self-Supervision

arXiv preprint arXiv:2205.09723 (2022)


Recent progress in Medical Artificial Intelligence (AI) has delivered systems that can reach clinical expert level performance. However, such systems tend to demonstrate sub-optimal out-of-distribution'' performance when evaluated in clinical settings different from the training environment. A common mitigation strategy is to develop separate systems for each clinical setting by retraining using site-specific data. However, this quickly becomes impractical as medical data is time-consuming to acquire and expensive to annotate. Thus, the problem ofdata-efficient generalization'' presents an ongoing difficulty for Medical AI development. Although progress in representation learning shows promise, their benefits have not been rigorously studied, specifically for out-of-distribution settings. To meet these challenges, we present REMEDIS, a unified representation learning strategy to improve robustness and data-efficiency of medical imaging AI. REMEDIS uses a generic combination of large-scale supervised transfer learning on natural images with intermediate contrastive self-supervised learning on medical images and requires little task-specific customization. We study a diverse range of medical imaging tasks and simulate three realistic application scenarios using retrospective data. REMEDIS exhibits significantly improved in-distribution performance with up to 11.5% relative improvement in diagnostic accuracy over a strong supervised baseline. More importantly, our strategy leads to strong data-efficient generalization of medical imaging AI, matching strong supervised baselines using between 1% to 33% of retraining data across tasks. These results suggest that REMEDIS can significantly accelerate the life-cycle of medical imaging AI development thereby presenting an important step forward for medical imaging AI to deliver broad impact.

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