Antoniadi AM, Galvin M, Heverin M, Wei L, Hardiman O, Mooney C.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Motor Neuron Disease (MND), is a rare and fatal neurodegenerative disease. As ALS is currently incurable, the aim of the treatment is mainly to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life (QoL). We designed a prototype Clinical Decision Support System (CDSS) to alert clinicians when a person with ALS is experiencing low QoL in order to inform and personalise the support they receive. Explainability is important for the success of a CDSS and its acceptance by healthcare professionals. The aim of this work isto announce our prototype (C-ALS), supported by a first short evaluation of its explainability. Given the lack of similar studies and systems, this work is a valid proof-of-concept that will lead to future work. We developed a CDSS that was evaluated by members of the team of healthcare professionals that provide care to people with ALS in the ALS/MND Multidisciplinary Clinic in Dublin, Ireland. We conducted a user study where participants were asked to review the CDSS and complete a short survey with a focus on explainability. Healthcare professionals demonstrated some uncertainty in understanding the system’s output. Based on their feedback, we altered the explanation provided in the updated version of our CDSS. C-ALS provides local explanations of its predictions in a post-hoc manner, using SHAP (SHapley Additive exPlanations). The CDSS predicts the risk of low QoL in the form of a probability, a bar plot shows the feature importance for the specific prediction, along with some verbal guidelines on how to interpret the results. Additionally, we provide the option of a global explanation of the system’s function in the form of a bar plot showing the average importance of each feature. C-ALS is available online for academic use.