The future doctor might be an app

A British artificial intelligence start-up launches Babylon, an application to replace some medical appointments.

Artificial intelligence could revolutionize the care of ordinary people in the near future. British health platform Babylon will soon have a new service allowing to “listen to the description of your symptoms and provide medical advice” without human intervention, announced this week the journal of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The founder of Babylon, Ali Parsa, believes that artificial intelligence will help reduce the number of misdiagnoses, sometimes fatal. Service subscribers who currently have access to medical consultations by videoconferencing on their smartphone, will in a few months “to share their symptoms on the application, which will compare them to a database of diseases through voice recognition. After taking into account the medical history of patients and circumstances, Babylon will offer a plan of action. ” The service will cost 7 francs a month, says the magazine.

No formal requirements, but recommendations: names and dosage of drugs available in pharmacies or local emergency contact in case of problems “judged” more serious. 21,500 people are currently testing a version of this app, funded notably by Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman, founders of the project Google DeepMind .

“More secure than a human ‘

According to the Columbia Ali Parsa, “the system is able to analyze hundreds of millions of combinations of symptoms” instantly, while taking account of genetic information, the environment and behavior of the patient. Safer result a diagnosis announced by a human: “The machines can perfectly remember all known diseases (note: envrion 10,000) by examining symptoms. And unlike in flesh and blood doctors, they do not seek confirmation “of their analysis.

The benefits of such an application if users are satisfied and use it appropriately, are many: decongesting medical offices or hospitals for better care for true emergencies; easier access to advice for isolated patients; preventing certain diseases by controlling, for example, sleep and pulse via mobile accessory.

“If your heart rate accelerates without you change your physical activity is a sign that you are stressed or dehydrated or you struggle against something. The platform can draw your attention to this issue and propose an action plan to combat the disease before it manifests “advance Ali Parsa.

Headache possible or public danger

A doctor interviewed by the magazine himself is skeptical. First, the machines can not communicate with patients and “people describe their symptoms very differently depending on their personality.” The family physician can interpret some data, because he knows his patients. Then the risk is that the system becomes “too sensitive, and increased doctor visits result – in which case it does not really interest or not sensitive enough, and serious diagnoses will miss.” Other possible faults (confidentiality of such data, hacking, etc.) immediately come to mind.

Ali Parsa put still on a combination of existing health systems, which, given the aging population and medical advances, will no longer be based solely on human capabilities. “We will never have enough doctors to monitor each patient at this level of detail or analyze mountains of data in seconds. The only way to democratize healthcare and solve this problem of supply and demand is to use artificial intelligence. “(Nxp)

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