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MITx: Machine Learning for Healthcare

An introduction to machine learning for healthcare, ranging from theoretical considerations to understanding human consequences of deploying technology in the clinic, through hands-on Python projects using real healthcare data.

Machine Learning for Healthcare
15 weeks
8–12 hours per week
Instructor-led on a course schedule
This course is archived
Future dates to be announced

About this course

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Machine learning methods have revolutionized many aspects of healthcare, from new models that help clinicians make more informed decisions to new technologies that enable individual patients to better manage their own health. Since the 1950s with Kaiser’s first computerized records for chest X-ray reports and blood test results, and the introduction of the pacemaker, clinicians have realized the potential of algorithms to save lives. This rich history of machine learning for healthcare informs groundbreaking research today, as new advances in image processing, deep learning, and natural language processing are transforming the healthcare industry.

Using machine learning to improve patient outcomes requires that we understand the human consequences of machine learning, such as transparency, fairness, regulation, ease of deployment, and integration into clinical workflows. Throughout this course, we return to the question: how can machine learning improve healthcare for all?

The course begins with an introduction to clinical care and data, and then explores the use of machine learning for risk stratification and diagnosis, disease progression modeling, improving clinical workflows, and precision medicine. For each of these topics we dive into methodological details typically not covered in introductory machine learning courses, such as the foundations of deep learning on imaging and natural language, interpretability of ML models, algorithmic fairness, causal inference and off-policy reinforcement learning.

Guest lectures by clinicians and course programming projects with real clinical data emphasize subtleties of working with clinical data and translating machine learning into clinical practice.

At a glance

  • Institution: MITx
  • Subject: Computer Science
  • Level: Advanced
  • Prerequisites:
    • 6.86x or equivalent machine learning course
    • 6.00.1x or proficiency in Python programming
    • 6.431x or equivalent probability theory course
    • College-level single-variable calculus
    • Vectors and matrices
  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English
  • Associated skills: Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning, Workflow Management, Causal Inference, Integration, Reference Ranges For Blood Tests, Deep Learning, Artificial Cardiac Pacemakers, Algorithms, Python (Programming Language), Image Processing

What you'll learn

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  • Understand how machine learning methods can be used for risk stratification, understanding disease and its progression, and specific clinical applications to mammography, pathology, and cardiology
  • Understand practical subtleties of machine learning from clinical data, such as physiological time-series, clinical text, and image data
  • Implement and analyze models for supervised prediction, clinical NLP, interpretability analysis, and causal inference from clinical data


Unit 1: Overview of Clinical Care & Data (2 weeks)

  • Introduction: What Makes Healthcare Unique?
  • Translating Technology Into the Clinic
  • Overview of Clinical Care
  • Deep Dive Into Clinical Data

Unit 2: ML for Risk Stratification & Diagnosis (3 weeks)

  • Risk Stratification
  • Survival Modeling
  • Learning from Noisy Labels
  • Detecting and Mitigating Dataset Shift

Unit 3: ML with clinical text, imaging, and physiological data (2 weeks)

  • Guest Lecture on Machine Learning for Pathology
  • Physiological Time-Series
  • Guest Lecture on Machine Learning for Mammography
  • Clinical Natural Language Processing

Unit 4: Understanding disease and its progression (2 weeks)

  • Differential Diagnosis
  • Precision Medicine
  • Disease Progression Modeling and Subtyping

Unit 5: Human Factors (3 weeks)

  • Learning to Defer
  • Guest Lecture on Machine Learning for Cardiology
  • Interpretability
  • Fairness
  • Regulation of ML / AI in the US
  • Automating Clinical Workflows

Unit 6: Causal Inference & Reinforcement Learning (3 weeks)

  • Causal Inference from Observational Data
  • Off-Policy Reinforcement Learning


  • Predicting In-hospital Mortality for Intensive Care Unit patients
  • Fundamentals of Learning from Changing Data
  • Fundamentals of Learning from Noisy Labels
  • Identifying and Using Clinical Terms Found in Clinical Notes
  • Deep Learning to De-Identify Clinical Notes
  • Interpreting Deep Models for Chest X-Ray Diagnosis
  • Fundamentals of Learning to Defer to Human Experts
  • Fundamentals of Causal Inference from Observational Data

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners residing in one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. edX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.

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