The differences were sometimes acute. Scientists reckoned that eliminating the algorithmic bias would increase the percentage of black patients receiving extra help from 17.7 percent to 46.5 percent. When millions of customers were processed through the algorithm, this meant that legions of black people weren’t receiving enough support.
In this case, the bias appear to have largely been ironed out. The team helped the healthcare provider switch to alternative labeling such as “active chronic conditions” and “avoidable costs,” putting the focus on the actual health of the patient instead of their costs. This helped reduce the quantifiable bias by 84 percent. While code changes are far from the only ways to address allegations of systemic bias, the study suggests that they could play a larger role than you might think.