Guest Post: Medical AI

A guest post by a reader:

We know someone who is a consultant addiction psychiatrist in the state medical system.  He has been looking at how AI can help him. There is apparently a specialised medical AI product. I guess In fact there are several.

He tells us a normal consult is 30-40 minutes and he spends almost as much on paperwork writing up notes on the consult.  With this AI product he fires up the laptop, activates the bot and it does a transcript of the entire episode.  Does a real good job even though it has never heard the patient before.

At the end of the consult he asks the bot to summarise the session. Basically it writes up the same sort of notes that he normally does. He only has to polish this output – It’s pretty good when it comes out. Normally he spends about as much time writing up the notes as he spent talking to the patient. He reckons it saves him 20% of the total  time spent on that consult.  Or to put it another way it would enable him to see 25% more patients …

Given that psychiatrists are not – and unlikely to become – in surplus …. he reckons that TWO should have a look at the various medical AI providers, get a bulk licence and encourage widespread use of the technology.  He is using the free version and a licence cost $US100 or so per month. This would have the same effect as creating 10-15% more psychiatrists which otherwise would take 10-odd years. 

 The system takes care of patient confidentiality issues. It can (optionally) be trained to learn his quirks.  I guess it is some distance away from actually doing the consult – it’s hard to imagine addicts relating to a bot rather than a person across the desk. As it should be.

Some of us have dealt with medics who type the session into the computer as it is happening – personally I find this moderately disconcerting and of course not all medics can touch type. I assume they are sort of summarising it as they go or something like that. I haven’t asked.

A more common approach is for the medic to dictate some notes at the of the session and send them off to be typed up.  Maybe use Word dictate … Our psych friend says the problem with that dictation is an acquired skill and he has never been very good at it.

One does wonder if AI used in this fashion might also improve the throughput of GPs by cutting down on paperwork time. Again – as the skills required are in hugely short supply an unlikely to be resolved anytime soon – anything that gets more bang for buck has to be worth 

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