Doctors diagnose better than apps
DESPITE all of the health apps, trackers and modern technology available to us, it seems nothing beats a visit to the doctor, according to research out this week from Harvard University.
Carried out by researchers from Harvard Medical School, the team asked 234 internal medicine physicians to evaluate 45 clinical cases and make the most likely diagnosis of the condition, along with two additional possible diagnoses.
The cases included a mix of both common and uncommon conditions with varying degrees of severity.
Each case was solved by at least 20 physicians, with the doctors’ diagnosis then compared with 23 popular symptom-checker apps.
Symptom-checker apps have increased in popularity over the last decade, partly in an effort to reduce medical and diagnostic errors.
However, this new study is thought to be the first to directly compare diagnoses between humans and computers.
The results showed that the physicians outperformed the apps, naming the correct diagnosis first 72% of the time, compared with just 34% of the time for the apps.
In addition, the physicians listed the correct diagnosis in the top three possibilities 84% of the time, compared with 51% of the time for the apps.
The team also observed that the biggest difference between physician and computer performance was found in more severe and less common conditions, and was smaller for the more common illnesses.
However, despite theirsuperior performance in the study, physicians still made errors in about 15% of cases.
A method of reducing errors further could now involve using doctors’ diagnoses in conjunction with computer-based algorithms.
Senior investigator Ateev Mehrotra said: “While the computer programs were clearly inferior to physicians in terms of diagnostic accuracy, it will be critical to study future generations of computer programs.” – AFP-Relaxnews