Multimodal machine learning in precision health: A scoping review

Adrienne Kline, Hanyin Wang, Yikuan Li, Saya Dennis, Meghan Hutch, Zhenxing Xu, Fei Wang, Feixiong Cheng, Yuan Luo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Machine learning is frequently being leveraged to tackle problems in the health sector including utilization for clinical decision-support. Its use has historically been focused on single modal data. Attempts to improve prediction and mimic the multimodal nature of clinical expert decision-making has been met in the biomedical field of machine learning by fusing disparate data. This review was conducted to summarize the current studies in this field and identify topics ripe for future research. We conducted this review in accordance with the PRISMA extension for Scoping Reviews to characterize multi-modal data fusion in health. Search strings were established and used in databases: PubMed, Google Scholar, and IEEEXplore from 2011 to 2021. A final set of 128 articles were included in the analysis. The most common health areas utilizing multi-modal methods were neurology and oncology. Early fusion was the most common data merging strategy. Notably, there was an improvement in predictive performance when using data fusion. Lacking from the papers were clear clinical deployment strategies, FDA-approval, and analysis of how using multimodal approaches from diverse sub-populations may improve biases and healthcare disparities. These findings provide a summary on multimodal data fusion as applied to health diagnosis/prognosis problems. Few papers compared the outputs of a multimodal approach with a unimodal prediction. However, those that did achieved an average increase of 6.4% in predictive accuracy. Multi-modal machine learning, while more robust in its estimations over unimodal methods, has drawbacks in its scalability and the time-consuming nature of information concatenation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number171
Journalnpj Digital Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Information Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Multimodal machine learning in precision health: A scoping review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this