Smart Doctors Still Better Than Smartphones

The LA Times has reviewed a recent study: JAMA Intern Med. Published online October 10, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.6001

LA Times: Your phone may be smart, but your doctor still know more than an app

An excerpt:

In a head-to-head comparison, real human physicians outperformed a collection of 23 symptom-checker apps and websites by a margin of more than 2 to 1, according to a report published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Even when the contestants got three chances to figure out what ailed a hypothetical patient, the diagnostic software lagged far behind actual doctors. Indeed, the apps and websites suggested the right diagnosis only slightly more than half of the time, the report says…

Though the humans trounced the computers across the board, there were situations in which doctors did a particularly good job of naming the correct diagnosis first. For instance, their margin in cases with common conditions was 70% to 38%. In cases with uncommon conditions, it grew to 76% to 28%.

My take:  According to the study, doctors still beat computer symptom algorithms.  But, there may be bias: “three of the study authors are doctors, and none are apps.”  At the same time, there is a likelihood of increased collaboration between physicians and computers.

NPR: Computerized Assistant for Cancer



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