Federated Multilingual Models for Medical Transcript Analysis

Federated Learning (FL) is a novel machine learning approach that allows the model trainer to access more data samples, by training the model across multiple decentralized data sources, while data access constraints are in place. Such trained models can achieve significantly higher performance beyond what can be done when trained on a single data source. As part of FL's promises, none of the training data is ever transmitted to any central location, ensuring that sensitive data remains local and private. These characteristics make FL perfectly suited for large-scale applications in healthcare, where a variety of compliance constraints restrict how data may be handled, processed, and stored. Despite the apparent benefits of federated learning, the heterogeneity in the local data distributions pose significant challenges, and such challenges are even more pronounced in the case of multilingual data providers. In this paper we present a federated learning system for training a large-scale multi-lingual model suitable for fine-tuning on downstream tasks such as medical entity tagging. Our work represents one of the first such production-scale systems, capable of training across multiple highly heterogeneous data providers, and achieving levels of accuracy that could not be otherwise achieved by using central training with public data. Finally, we show that the global model performance can be further improved by a training step performed locally.

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