AI system works like a real doctor to dignose kids
An artificial intelligence (AI) program developed in China that combs through test results, health records and even handwritten notes diagnosed childhood diseases as accurately as doctors, researchers said Monday.
From the flu and asthma to life-threatening pneumonia and meningitis, the system consistently matched or out-performed primary care paediatricians, they reported in Nature Medicine.
The system shows a high level of accuracy comparable to that of experienced pediatricians.
To train and validate the system, the scientists used it to study and interpret electronic health records from more than 1.36 million pediatric visits to a major referral center in China.
"I believe that it will be able to perform most of the jobs a doctor does," senior author Kang Zhang, a researcher at the University of California, San Diego, told AFP.
"But AI will never replace a doctor," he added, comparing the relationship to an autonomous car that remains under the supervision of a human driver.
"It will simply allow doctors to do a better job in less time and at lower costs."
The new technology, said Zhang, is the first in which AI absorbs unstructured data and "natural language" to imitate the process by which a physician figures out what's wrong with a patient.
"It can mimic a human paediatrician to interpret and integrate all types of medical data－patient complaints, medical history, blood and imaging tests－to make a diagnosis," he said.
AI-based technology learns and improves in a way similar to humans, but has virtually unlimited capacity for data processing and storage.