DPVis: Visual Exploration of Disease Progression Pathways

DPVis provides multiple, coordinated views that are tightly integrated with a hidden markov model (HMM). DPVis allows users to explore heterogenous disease progression pathways from data collected in clinical studies in a more interpretable and interactive way.


Clinical researchers use disease progression modeling algorithms to predict future patient status and characterize progression patterns. One approach for disease progression modeling is to describe patient status using a small number of states that represent distinctive distributions over a set of observed measures. Hidden Markov models (HMMs) and its variants are a class of models that both discover these states and make predictions concerning future states for new patients. HMMs can be trained using longitudinal observations of subjects from large-scale cohort studies, clinical trials, and electronic health records. Despite the advantages of using the algorithms for discovering interesting patterns, it still remains challenging for medical experts to interpret model outputs, complex modeling parameters, and clinically make sense of the patterns. To tackle this problem, we conducted a design study with physician scientists, statisticians, and visualization experts, with the goal to investigate disease progression pathways of certain chronic diseases, namely type 1 diabetes (T1D), Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). As a result, we introduce DPVis which seamlessly integrates model parameters and outcomes of HMMs into interpretable, and interactive visualizations. In this study, we demonstrate that DPVis is successful in evaluating disease progression models, visually summarizing disease states, interactively exploring disease progression patterns, and designing and comparing clinically relevant subgroup cohorts by introducing a case study on observation data from clinical studies of T1D.