AI News, BOOK REVIEW: GP patients expected to overplay symptoms on NHS chatbot to 'get appointment quicker'

GP patients expected to overplay symptoms on NHS chatbot to 'get appointment quicker'

A planned trial of a chat-bot app to free up doctors’ time was dropped after patients admitted they would manipulate the system by exaggerating symptoms to see a GP quicker.

The app has already been trialled in parts of the capital as a possible alternative to the NHS 111 telephone service, where patients explain their symptoms to a call handler who directs them to the best service.

READ MORE Fears GP app will make it harder for ‘complex’ patients to get care But the board of the North West London Collaboration of CCGs said early focus groups with patients revealed they were more interested in using it to jump the waiting list to see a GP.

“The focus groups had also commented that there is a risk of some people gaming the symptom checker to achieve a GP appointment.” This could involve overstating symptoms to get an appointment sooner, and the CCGs’ board minutes reflect that this “significantly reduced the intended benefit”, so further testing wasn’t continued.

READ MORE FDA to regulate mobile medical apps Use of health apps by medical staff ‘putting patient data at risk’ Health apps approved by NHS ‘may put users at risk of identity theft’ This caused concern amongst family doctor groups who point to disclaimers about the app’s suitability for pregnant women, or frail older patients.

The doctor will see you now… on your smartphone

As I waited to speak to him, I learned from his biographical detail that he was practising in Leeds, that he’d visited five of the seven continents and enjoyed cycling and skiing.

But he was engaged and reassuring, calling back when the video feed dropped, and after a few prompts he determined we were probably looking at a sebaceous cyst.

Babylon offers its triage services, which advise on the urgency of treatment, free, but to speak to a doctor, it’s a rolling monthly payment of £4.99 or a one-off fee of £25.

But the bigger question is what impact online doctors will have on the provision of healthcare in the UK: are they a valuable tool to reduce the demands on our overloaded doctors and nurses or are they, as one GP I spoke to said, opening “a door to NHS destruction”?

All the accoutrements of the kidult, forward-thinking workplace are present: free toast and cereals, ping-pong tables that double as large desks for team meetings.

“First, I was born in Iran,” says Parsa, an energetic, fast-talking 51-year-old with a bald head and statement Cutler & Gross spectacles, “so Babylon was always part of our culture as one of the big Persian cities.

If you got sick in Babylon about two and a half thousand years ago, you’d stand on the square that was designated as a square of the sick and every resident that passed by would tell you if they’d ever come across that disease and, if they had, how they cured themselves.

And with that very simple peer-to-peer health service, they had the longest life expectancy in the world.” We are going to put an affordable health service into the hands of every person on Earth Babylon's mission statement Parsa laughs: “But the truth is that all of that is nonsense.

We called it Babylon because we were too cheap to pay a design agency or a PR agency to go out and figure out some funky name.” In the reception area, the mission statement of Babylon is written on a large mirror: “Our purpose is to democratise healthcare.

It came about, apparently, after Ozagir fell sick on a trip to the US and bemoaned the fact that you could organise a taxi, a boat, even a helicopter through your phone, but not a doctor.

Push Doctor does not attempt to triage or diagnose patients, but instead puts them straight in touch with GPs doing consultations during the time they could otherwise be doing private practice.

The development also fits with the idea that millennials now expect all their services to be streamlined and efficient: from getting the new ramen joint to deliver via Uber to having your dry cleaning picked up from your desk.

According to Nazareth, “check a symptom” was consistently faster and more accurate in triaging patients than its human rivals: it scored 92% accuracy compared to the doctor’s 82% and the nurse’s 77%.

He arrived in Britain as a refugee in his late teens and has been, among other things, an investment banker and co-founder of Circle, the private healthcare company that runs hospitals in Bath and Reading and in 2011 took over the struggling Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire.

So the idea that a human brain can keep in touch – ha!” Google DeepMind pairs with NHS to use machine learning to fight blindness Read more Parsa does not think that artificial intelligence will replace humans – at least not in the foreseeable future.

DeepMind puts the success of AlphaGo down to the fact that the program almost mirrored a human brain: it used trial and error, allied to a dense historical database of games from the past, to play both creatively and minimise mistakes.

So the methodology we employ is very similar to the way a human brain works, whereby we teach a human how to become a doctor and the same way we teach a machine how to become a doctor.

We don’t just use ginormous amounts of data, we give them rules and functions.” It takes around seven years to train a human to become a doctor – how long then for a machine?

While there has been a rush by GPs to supplement their incomes with shifts at places such as Babylon – it has about 100 doctors on call – others are concerned about the impact that paid-for services will have on the NHS.

But if you have an ongoing condition, or multiple or complex needs, the research shows that your care will be better if you have continuity and are looked after by a team that can care for you holistically.” The idea of “a GP in your pocket” emphasises speed and convenience, but McCartney fears that it may ultimately derail our health service.

If you’re waiting two weeks to see a doctor and you can press a button and see it on Babylon, it’s not right.” A shake of the head: “That’s not right.” Parsa is a convincing pitchman and my first experience with Babylon for my neck was a good one.

The NHS is trialling an AI chatbot to answer your medical questions

Babylon In an experimental trial, the National Health Service across parts of London is going to test an artificial intelligence app as a way for potential patients to find out how urgent their problems are.

The trial, which will run for six months, will allow people to enter their symptoms into the app and receive responses based on what they have entered.

READ NEXT This artificial intelligence is designed to be mentally unstable By DAVID HAMBLING 'Babylon’s AI technology can process billions of symptom combinations much faster and more accurately than the human brain,' the company says in a brochure on how it works with the NHS.

Staff from Babylon have said they believe the NHS-approved app will help the organisation save money as the process of interacting with the bot takes around 12 messages and is quicker than speaking to a human on the phone.

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