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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  2. Background The proliferation of mobile health (mHealth) applications is partly driven by the advancements in sensing and communication technologies, as well as the integration of artificial intelligence techniques. Data collected from mHealth applications, for example, on sensor devices carried by patients, can be mined and analyzed using artificial intelligence–based solutions to facilitate remote and (near) real-time decision-making in health care settings. However, such data often sit in data silos, and patients are often concerned about the privacy implications of sharing their raw data. Federated learning (FL) is a potential solution, as it allows multiple data owners to collaboratively train a machine learning model without requiring access to each other’s raw data. Objective The goal of this scoping review is to gain an understanding of FL and its potential in dealing with sensitive and heterogeneous data in mHealth applications. Through this review, various stakeholders, such as health care providers, practitioners, and policy makers, can gain insight into the limitations and challenges associated with using FL in mHealth and make informed decisions when considering implementing FL-based solutions. Methods We conducted a scoping review following the guidelines of PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Extension for Scoping Reviews). We searched 7 commonly used databases. The included studies were analyzed and summarized to identify the possible real-world applications and associated challenges of using FL in mHealth settings. Results A total of 1095 articles were retrieved during the database search, and 26 articles that met the inclusion criteria were included in the review. The analysis of these articles revealed 2 main application areas for FL in mHealth, that is, remote monitoring and diagnostic and treatment support. More specifically, FL was found to be commonly used for monitoring self-care ability, health status, and disease progression, as well as in diagnosis and treatment support of diseases. The review also identified several challenges (eg, expensive communication, statistical heterogeneity, and system heterogeneity) and potential solutions (eg, compression schemes, model personalization, and active sampling). Conclusions This scoping review has highlighted the potential of FL as a privacy-preserving approach in mHealth applications and identified the technical limitations associated with its use. The challenges and opportunities outlined in this review can inform the research agenda for future studies in this field, to overcome these limitations and further advance the use of FL in mHealth. 
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  3. The devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed years of cyclic inequalities faced by disadvantaged and minority communities. Unequal access to healthcare and a lack of financial resources further exacerbates their suffering, especially during a pandemic. In such critical conditions, information technology-based healthcare services can be an efficient way of increasing access to healthcare for these communities. In this paper, we put forward a decision model for guiding the distribution of IT-based healthcare services for racial minorities. We augment the Health Belief Model by adding financial and technology beliefs. We posit that financial inclusion of minority populations increases their ability to access technology and, by extension, IT-based healthcare services. Financial inclusion and the use of secure private technologies like federated learning can indeed enable greater access to healthcare services for minorities. Therefore, we incorporate financial, health, and technology tools to develop a model for equitable delivery of healthcare services and test its applicability in different use-case scenarios. 
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  4. Communication is a key bottleneck in federated learning where a large number of edge devices collaboratively learn a model under the orchestration of a central server without sharing their own training data. While local SGD has been proposed to reduce the number of FL rounds and become the algorithm of choice for FL, its total communication cost is still prohibitive when each device needs to communicate with the remote server repeatedly for many times over bandwidth-limited networks. In light of both device-to-device (D2D) and device-to-server (D2S) cooperation opportunities in modern communication networks, this paper proposes a new federated optimization algorithm dubbed hybrid local SGD (HL-SGD) in FL settings where devices are grouped into a set of disjoint clusters with high D2D communication bandwidth. HL-SGD subsumes previous proposed algorithms such as local SGD and gossip SGD and enables us to strike the best balance between model accuracy and runtime. We analyze the convergence of HL-SGD in the presence of heterogeneous data for general nonconvex settings. We also perform extensive experiments and show that the use of hybrid model aggregation via D2D and D2S communications in HL-SGD can largely speed up the training time of federated learning. 
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  5. Federated learning (FL) enables distributed agents to collaboratively learn a centralized model without sharing their raw data with each other. However, data locality does not provide sufficient privacy protection, and it is desirable to facilitate FL with rigorous differential privacy (DP) guarantee. Existing DP mechanisms would introduce random noise with magnitude proportional to the model size, which can be quite large in deep neural networks. In this paper, we propose a new FL framework with sparsification-amplified privacy. Our approach integrates random sparsification with gradient perturbation on each agent to amplify privacy guarantee. Since sparsification would increase the number of communication rounds required to achieve a certain target accuracy, which is unfavorable for DP guarantee, we further introduce acceleration techniques to help reduce the privacy cost. We rigorously analyze the convergence of our approach and utilize Renyi DP to tightly account the end-to-end DP guarantee. Extensive experiments on benchmark datasets validate that our approach outperforms previous differentially-private FL approaches in both privacy guarantee and communication efficiency.

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