When It Comes To Diagnosis, Doctors Outperform Computers

When It Comes To Diagnosis, Doctors Outperform Computers

With robots and computers regularly rivaling humans at board games, art, and even surgery, it seems inevitable that one day, they'll be better than humans at everything. But that's not the case at your local doctor's office—at least for the time being.

Experts say that doctors make the wrong diagnosis 10–15 percent of the time. To cut down on that number, many are suggesting that doctors rely more on computers and other high-tech tools when they're diagnosing patients. Harvard researchers wanted to find out whether that really was good advice. For a 2016 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers pitted 234 doctors against 23 popular symptom-checker apps in a race to determine which could more quickly and accurately make diagnoses in 45 different clinical cases. For each case, doctors had to list the most likely illness, followed by two other possible diagnoses. The result? Not even close. Doctors got the right diagnosis more than twice as often as the apps—they listed the correct diagnosis first 72 percent of the time compared to the computers' measly 34 percent. The doctors still made errors about 15 percent of the time, and researchers are hopeful that someday, technology will be powerful enough to fix that. But for now? If you think you have the flu, you're better off seeing a regular old human doctor. Hear about advances in medical technology in the videos below.

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