AI-Driven Healthcare: Making Doctors Better Diagnosticians

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With artificial intelligence apparently infiltrating every technology, one area where it is seen as most promise is in assisting physicians in making medical diagnosis.

AI is already making its way into some physicians’ offices.

Dr. Michael Mansour of Massachusetts General Hospital is an early adopter who is assisting with a type of AI that may transform the way doctors receive information in the future.

Mansour is an expert in invasive fungal infections in transplant recipients. “Got a nice picture of mushrooms in my office,” Mansour laughs. “I just really enjoy helping patients through, you know, pretty devastating mold and yeast infections.”

When a patient arrives with an unexplained illness, Mansour consults a computer tool called UpToDate. It’s a hugely popular tool, with over 2 million users across 44,000 health care institutions in over 190 countries.

Essentially, it’s Google for physicians, exploring a massive collection of papers authored by specialists in the subject, all of whom are drawing on the most recent research.

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A mystery is brought by a guest from Hawaii.

“Here’s an example,” Mansour adds as he opens his computer. “If I meet a patient who is visiting from Hawaii.” Mansour is concerned about the hypothetical patient’s symptoms, which point to an infection contracted back home, so he enters “Hawaii” and “infection” into UpToDate.

“And I get things like dengue virus, jellyfish stings, murine typhus, etc.,” he continues, scrolling down a long list of answers on his laptop. Mansour hopes the list was more detailed, saying, “I think gen AI gives you the opportunity to really refine that.”

Mansour has been assisting with the testing of an experimental version of UpToDate that use generative AI to assist clinicians in accessing more tailored information from its database.

Wolters Kluwer Health, which produces UpToDate, is attempting to add AI so that clinicians may have a better interaction with the database.

“If you have a question, it can maintain the context of your question,” explains Dr. Peter Bonis, Wolters Kluwer Health’s chief medical officer. “And saying things like, ‘Oh, I meant this,’ or ‘What about that?'” And it understands what you’re saying and can help you through it in the same manner that you could ask a master clinician to do.”

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Software hallucinations are not advised.

Wolters Kluwer Health is now providing the AI-enhanced software in beta version for testing. According to Bonis, the corporation must ensure that it is completely reliable before releasing it.

Bonis has seen the computer making mistakes that experts in big language model AI programs refer to as hallucinations.

He once saw it quote a journal paper in his field that he was unfamiliar with. “I then looked in that journal to see if I could find the study.” “It didn’t exist,” Bonis explains. “So I asked the large language model, ‘Did you make this up?'” Yes, it said.”

Once such flaws are ironed out, AI is often seen as having enormous promise for assisting doctors in making diagnoses. It’s already being utilized in radiology, assisting with CT scans and X-rays. Another effort, OpenEvidence, is being headed by academics from Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Cornell University. It uses AI to sift through the most recent medical research papers and synthesize the data for consumers.

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AI may prepare for a patient’s appointment.

Before a consultation, some physicians want to utilize AI to look through and summarize a patient’s medical history.

“It’s a time-consuming and very haphazard process,” says Dr. June-Ho Kim, who runs a program on primary care innovation at Ariadne Labs, a collaboration between Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “And you could see a large language model that’s able to digest that and produce kind of natural language summaries of it being incredibly useful.”

According to Kim, AI technology may enable primary care physicians care for patients without the assistance of experts in some circumstances. “It will free up specialist time to focus on the more complex cases that they need to really [home] in on, rather than the ones that could be answered through a few questions,” he said.

In August, a research published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research examined the diagnostic abilities of the popular ChatGPT application. Researchers gave ChatGPT 36 clinical cases and discovered that the AI algorithm was 77% accurate when providing final diagnoses. ChatGPT’s diagnosis were only 60% accurate with more restricted information based on patients’ initial encounters with doctors.

“It needs improvement,” says Dr. Marc Succi of Mass General Brigham, one of the paper’s authors. “We’ve drilled down on specific parts of the clinical visit where it needs to improve before it’s ready for prime time.”

Succi believes that, like a stethoscope, AI will eventually show to be a reliable medical instrument.

“AI won’t replace doctors, but doctors who use AI will replace doctors who do not,” Succi said. “It’s the same as writing an article on a typewriter or on a computer.” That is the level of jump.”

Mansour, a transplant fungal infection expert at Massachusetts General Hospital, expects that AI would allow him to spend more time with patients. “Instead of spending those extra minutes searching things, you could allow me to go and talk to that person about their diagnosis, about what to expect for management,” he said. “It restores that patient-doctor relationship.”

That bond is strained as physicians get busy, according to Mansour, and AI may be able to assist.

 

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Source: NPR

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