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Doctors should have right to overrule artificial intelligence diagnoses, experts say

Last updated: 10-17-2020

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Doctors should have right to overrule artificial intelligence diagnoses, experts say

Ai is currently used behind the scenes in health, but medical professionals are asking big questions about its future.

How would you feel about a computer telling your doctor what’s wrong with you?

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is already behind the scenes in health, but the medical world is considering how it’d work in a more front-row role.

Who should have the final say if a doctor and AI disagree, asked a discussion document from the Medical Council of New Zealand.

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“Think about what the [Health and Disability Commission] would say,” University of Waikato Professor of Population Health Ross Lawrenson said.

“If the computer got it wrong and the doctor followed it blindly, I think the HDC would take you to task.”

Equally, there would be problems if the doctor ignored a correct machine diagnosis and couldn’t explain why.

People tend to struggle most with the idea of face-to-face AI interaction in health, or a robot doing surgery, University of Otago Professor at the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Public Policy Colin Gavaghan said.

He thinks AI probably is the next big thing, but it’s hard to separate hype from reality.

“Ultimately it will be the human doctor you still talk to, but he or she will be plugging your data into a piece of software,” he said.

Research points to AI outperforming humans in certain areas, such as predicting the likelihood of heart attack.

But it can be “a wee bit racist” if not trained on a broad enough range of people.

Using AI isn't much of a step from Dr Google, Lawrenson said.

It could be put to work on big data such as GP records, looking at signs and symptoms, and possible diagnoses.

Finding patterns within groups of patients, for example with cancer or endometriosis, could help others get diagnosed earlier, he said.

And there's already an algorithm based on Fitbit information to indicate whether people might have Covid-19, and robots which have been trialled in aged care centres.

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