“Does incorporating AI potentially dehumanize healthcare? What is the role of AI to enhance healthcare without reducing that important human element of the doctor-patient relationship?
The answer to these questions is: Australia is already seeing an increasing shift from a doctor-patient relationship to a doctor–system relationship, so this demands a much broader debate for the community around where the lines should be drawn.
The Google AI research group, which developed its own diabetic retinopathy AI screening system, recently investigated this specific issue. In its study, the company found a combined diagnosis between a physician and AI technology was more effective than either one or the other on its own when examining ocular diseases.
The researchers examined whether the algorithm could do more than simply diagnose disease and developed a new computer-assisted system that could ‘explain’ the algorithm’s diagnosis.
According to the study, previous attempts to utilize computer-assisted diagnosis demonstrated some eyecare providers were overly reliant on the equipment, leading them to repeat the machine’s errors. Others were under-reliant or ignored the equipment’s recommendations and missed accurate predictions. The Google AI research team believed that some of these pitfalls might be avoided if the computer explained its predictions.
The researchers developed two types of assistance aid physicians to read the algorithm’s predictions. Grades: a set of five scores that represent the strength of evidence for the algorithm’s prediction; and Grades + heatmap: an improved grading system that includes a heatmap that measures the contribution of each pixel in the image to the algorithm’s prediction
Ophthalmologists were asked to read each image once under one of three conditions: unassisted, grades only, and grades + heatmap. Both types of assistance improved physicians’ diagnostic accuracy. It also improved their confidence in the diagnosis, however, the degree of improvement depended on the physician’s level of expertise.