New AI Technology Offers Alternative and Supplement to GP Appointments

A new mobile application claims to offer a radically different approach to contacting GP surgeries that will revolutionise the way that general practice works in the NHS.

Your.MD, is dubbed a personal health assistant, and utilises artificial intelligence to mimic a GP consultation.

Essentially, the software will elaborate on what it believes your medical difficulty to be if you speak to the application and describe your symptoms.

Although one might imagine that such software is relatively limited and simplistic, the producers of Your.MD in fact argue that it is rather sophisticated.

Chief executive Matteo Berlucchi states that the software achieves outstanding results by using Bayesian logic; a way of analysing data where every new piece of information works in collaboration with the others in order to reach a diagnosis.

Interestingly, the content of the application has been largely directly derived from the NHS Choices website, with the manufacturers also working closely with real-world doctors in order to crowdsource information.

Berlucchi claims that the app effectively draws on collective wisdom in order to deliver a very sophisticated diagnosis system.

“Essentially, we’re taking pieces of knowledge from each doctor’s brain like puzzle pieces and putting it into one big system. There’s one additional element: the app learns from each user consultation, enabling it to become more accurate.”

Your.MD is part of a wider trend, with a massive 165,000 health apps currently available on the iOS and Android platforms.

While most of these apps are fairly narrow in focus, and also condition-specific, there are an increasing number of niche applications which deal with deep diagnosis via artificial intelligence.

Although AI can be a worrisome topic for human beings, with many concerns of the potential for the human race to indeed be displaced, the general consensus regarding such software is that it will augment the diagnostic process and able relatively rare events to be captured that have medical significance.

Indeed, the sheer weight of pressure now bearing down on general practice means that such software could be hugely valuable in the future.

Julie Bretland, director and CEO of Our Mobile Health, an organisation which effectively provides a service that evaluates the quality of health apps available, states that the best software on the market enables patient interactions with GPs to be significantly reduced.

“You may get to the stage where you’re only going to physically see somebody if you need to be prodded, or have surgery. And then post-treatment, tracking and monitoring how your progress is going, or rehabilitation exercises, could be done through apps.”

While artificial intelligence and automation can be a threatening development in some fields, the highly-skilled work of doctors can potentially be supplemented by new innovative technologies such as Your.MD.

The NHS 111 service has attempted to provide a different method to reduce the workload of doctors, but many medics will attest that the ultimate advice from the helpline is often…”go and see your GP on Monday”!


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