Millions continue to be invested in Artificial Intelligence for healthcare. The potential is huge. But real world results have been mixed.
‘AI Doctors’ are a case in point.
Developments in AI have yielded a new generation of Symptom Checkers which measure their success by how closely they mirror real doctors.
AI Doctors may have a role to play, but real doctors are still the gold standard in the real world.
Digital health. What is it good for?
The foundation of Digital Health is built on the promise that technology can reduce healthcare costs.
To do this for Primary Care, digital solutions have to deliver in 3 key areas:
1. Utilisation — for the service to have an impact, people actually have to use it.
2. Accuracy — the information provided by the service has to be at least on par with accepted medical standards.
3. Trust — users have to believe the information and act upon its recommendations.
A majority of investment in AI Doctors has been focused on Number 2. Some services have had good results in carefully controlled trials.
But that investment is wasted if people don’t use the service.
And accuracy is meaningless if people don’t trust the answers.
People are people
Unsurprisingly, AI Doctors struggle with the human element.
Using a Symptom Checker can be as tedious as filling out a tax return. And the results are often just as confusing.
Only 26% of people say they would trust the diagnosis of an AI Doctor.
And Symptom Checkers struggle with utilisation for another important reason: fewer than 20% of the health questions asked to the Abi Chatbot are about symptom checking.
It’s no wonder leading primary care apps struggle to achieve single digit annual utilisation rates.
What do we want? Answers we can trust! When do we want them? Now!
Trust is the currency of primary care medicine. And doctors are the bankers of trust.
At Abi, we believe that AI has an important role to play in primary care. But to fulfil the 3 key criteria mentioned above, it needs to be applied in a way which makes doctors more efficient and more effective, rather than replacing them.
We use AI to make the process fast and convenient, but all medical answers come from real doctors. And because people trust doctors, please trust the answers.
When it comes to Primary Care, the first question people want answered is “Do I need to see a doctor?”
The best person to answer that question is still a doctor.