A new study finds a widely used software program that helps guide care for millions of patients is flawed by unintentional racial bias.
The software predicts costs rather than sickness. It is used by U.S. insurers and hospitals to direct higher-cost patients into health care programs designed to help them stay on medications or out of the hospital.
Whites tend to be higher-cost patients even when they’re not as sick as blacks. The study found the software regularly suggested letting healthier white patients into health care risk management programs ahead of blacks who were less healthy, even though the software wasn’t intentionally biased.
Researchers say fixing the software could more than double the number of black patients enrolled in these programs.
The paper was published Thursday in the journal Science.