Impact of Artificial Intelligence on ‘Dr Google’

AI aiding self-diagnosis Credit: :Pixabay: Geralt

There may be mixed thoughts on the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI), but self-diagnosis is one area where it is likely to have a significant impact.

So many of us now turn to ‘Dr Google’ when we experience health symptoms, hoping to ascertain what is wrong and avoid the need to visit a doctor.

Often this is to allay any fears,  although that can be a double-edged sword.  Depending on the results, we may think what we are suffering from is even more serious than we first thought.

The other reason for self-diagnosis is to gain reassurance that a doctor wouldn’t be able to do anything, so we would just be wasting their time. In fact, this ‘evidence’ is often cited when a family member tries to encourage an unwanted doctor visit.

However, it’s crucial to understand the limitations of self-diagnosis. According to the Journal of Medical Internet Research, 34% of self-diagnosed cases are incorrect. This is often due to the biased weighting of specific symptoms or the validation of a preconceived self-diagnosis.

All this is set to change with the introduction of new generative AI chatbots, which have access to vast amounts of medical literature. In this way, ‘Dr Google’ is already becoming a reality, whereby patients can describe their symptoms to an AI chatbot and receive instant feedback.

Imagine a chatbot that can ask the right questions to understand detailed symptoms. Then, record an accurate diagnosis using the gleaned information and its ability to assimilate huge quantities of data in real-time.

This may sound a little scary, but an AI system trained to conduct medical interviews performed extremely well. In fact, it matched and even surpassed the human physicians’ performance.

This included conversing and listing possible diagnoses for several simulated patients. Even more surprising, the AI bot demonstrated human emotion in explaining the condition and treatment with care, honesty, and commitment.

Is there an AI that diagnoses you?

One company that has made a significant breakthrough in bringing self-diagnosis to fruition is Docus. Their AI-powered health platform permits users to chat with an AI health assistant, generate health reports, and get second opinions from top doctors in the US and Europe.

In building the business model this way, the founders identified the need to underpin online/real-time diagnosis with human-supervised validation.

It is evident that AI paves the way for a more reliable self-diagnosis, but of course, this does depend on the quality of the data on which it has been trained.  Recognising its limitations is just as crucial as harnessing its possibilities.

There may come a time when AI can solely be relied upon in self-diagnosis, but at least for now, it seems the way forward is a more collaborative mix of human and technological skills.

Over to you – would you trust an AI health assistant to diagnose your symptoms?

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Written by

Donna Williams

Marketer, copywriter, storyteller and President of Samaritans in Spain. They say variety is the spice of life and I am definitely loving life!