Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Live doc versus app--doc wins

A computer acing a chess champ is pretty normal these days, but how do computer-based diagnosis apps fare against real live doctors?

According to a new study at Harvard--the docs win. (JAMA Internal Medicine, Oct 10, 2016)

Doctors make the correct diagnosis more than twice as often as 23 commonly used symptom-checker apps.

Diagnostic errors mean failing to recognize a disease or do so in a timely way.

Computers are good at checklists reduce medical errors--but apparently not so great at coming up with correct diagnoses based on symptoms.

In this study, 234 internists were asked to evaluate 45 clinical cases involving both common and uncommon conditions.

The docs reached the correct diagnosis first 72% of the time. The digital platforms--34%.

The docs also excelled at nailing the uncommon conditions. The computers and physicians were closer on the common things.

Still, physicians made errors 15% of the time. Just because the machines were worse may be faint consolation.

The solution--the machines need more game. Maybe the doctors, too.

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