The role of artificial intelligence in diagnosis

Ali Parsa’s British venture babylon health, plans to launch an AI powered diagnosis tool for consumers to use on their iPhones within a month. Will it work?

AI changes everything, as it effectively makes the cost of diagnosis free. But a general AI system which can diagnose anything and everything, will, we suspect, struggle to convince many consumers. Almost inevitably it will lead to 3-4 different possible outcomes and tell you to see a doctor if your conditions worsen. So why use AI if you can see a family doctor for free on the NHS or have paid £60 for unlimited consultations with a telehealth doctor (another of Parsa’s services)?

We think AI may work better in very specific, known conditions, such as diabetes. AI may also help in Emerging Markets where there is no universal healthcare and often no doctors. But it is better used as a tool for very specific conditions. It is easier to construct a programme which is an expert on interpreting symptoms for a particular disease, than one which can cover the entire spectrum encountered by a family doctor.

We look at babylon in much more detail in our interview with Parsa and we look forward to reviewing his AI offering when it launches.

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Claude Risner or call 0207 183 3779.