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X Prize Foundation Wants AI Physician On Every Smartphone

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the universal-health-care dept.

Medicine 245

kkleiner writes "One of the exciting ideas being tossed around recently at the X Prize Foundation is the creation of an Artificial Intelligence physician that you could access from your smartphone. Want to know if that rash on your leg is poison ivy or smallpox? Take a photo of it with your phone and ask the AI. The possibilities are enormous, especially for the billion plus people around the world who live more than a few hours' walk or drive from the nearest doctor." This is one of four X Prizes in planning for the future. The other three are for an AI automobile driver, organ generation through stem cell use, and a deep sea submersible capable of exploring the sea floor.

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245 comments

Frosty frist psto (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32590606)

Suck it!

No smallpox. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32590618)

Want to know if that rash on your leg is poison ivy or smallpox?

Not smallpox. C4n I plz haz the prize?

LOL no Tricorder tag? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32590620)

First thing that came to mind was the tricorder from startrek, eg the medical one.

Re:LOL no Tricorder tag? (4, Funny)

RangerRick98 (817838) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590902)

My first thought was "Please state the nature of the medical emergency."

Re:LOL no Tricorder tag? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591008)

And after reading your post, my first thought was "I'm a doctor, not a doorstop."

Re:LOL no Tricorder tag? (0, Offtopic)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591060)

Mine too. So naturally I had to search the comment threads to see if someone had posted it already. :)

Re:LOL no Tricorder tag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32591082)

It's okay. I'm sure the developers will get around to fixing your personality subroutines eventually so that you have a more varied introductory phrase.

Internet hypochondria is already a phenomenon (4, Insightful)

Burz (138833) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590622)

http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/internet-makes-hypochondria-worse [webmd.com]

Would the smartphone version be any better?

Re:Internet hypochondria is already a phenomenon (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590676)

Depends how it's done. If they manage to make it more of a tricorder eventually including some testing equipment or the photos are sent to somebody with knowledge hen probably not. It's not likely to replace an exam any time soon, but it would be helpful for contacting the consulting nurse as to whether or not to come in for an appointment.

But yes, if it just looks things up without any kind of smarts, then it's most likely just going to make things worse.

PSTO (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32590686)

this post dumps a truck of crap on everyone.

Your sincerely
            Troll

Re:Internet hypochondria is already a phenomenon (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590800)

Does anyone else find it hilarious that one of the primary contributors to Internet Hypochondria has an article about how bad Internet Hypochondria has gotten?

Re:Internet hypochondria is already a phenomenon (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590930)

Does anyone else find it hilarious that one of the primary contributors to Internet Hypochondria has an article about how bad Internet Hypochondria has gotten?

No, it just gives me the heebie-jeebies. And a headache.

Re:Internet hypochondria is already a phenomenon (5, Funny)

kg8484 (1755554) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591100)

No, but now I'm worried I might have Hypochondria.

Re:Internet hypochondria is already a phenomenon (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590866)

>>>Would the smartphone version be any better?

"Please state the nature of the emergency. Oh. It's you again. What now???" ----- I suspect not any better. And then after people got sick of the AI Doctor, he would be relegated to mining duty.

Re:Internet hypochondria is already a phenomenon (2, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590918)

Well - wouldn't the smart phone version be able to differentiate the diseases from common blunders?

I could see a hypochondriac using this feature to learn that "That Bump" is just a pimple.

Which, I know - doesn't usually help hypochondriacs, even a real doctor generally doesn't sway their mind. So I don't see why a smartphone app when the internet is already widely available making it any worse. (If you can find more people who own a smart phone who don't have access to the internet at least once a week than I have fingers, I'll retract my statement)

Re:Internet hypochondria is already a phenomenon (2, Insightful)

IICV (652597) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590984)

Exactly - the problem isn't creating an AI physician, the problem is creating an AI physician that you can't lie to blatantly. It would be trivial to create a little program that's little more than an enhanced version of those 20 question balls [20q.net] and runs a differential diagnosis engine; something like that would cover 90% of all diseases after a few rounds. It could show you little pictures like "do your bumps look more like this [wikipedia.org] or more like this [wikipedia.org]?", or any number enhancements. It would probably work incredibly well with honest, impartial patients.

The problem is, it has no way of knowing if you're lying. If you say "yes, when I press hard on this point [offlineclinic.com] on my belly it hurts when I let go", the thing has no way of knowing if you pressed on the right place or if it actually hurt. If there's a doctor doing that to you, they'll have a pretty good idea if it hurt.

Really, the best this thing can do is either say "you should see a doctor" or "you should take two acetaminophen and ask me again tomorrow"

Re:Internet hypochondria is already a phenomenon (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591170)

This is your usual example of an expert system from an undergraduate introductory AI course.

I'm not sure such a system warrants an X prize. This is the sort of thing that isn't done more because of legal liability than technical limitations.

Although a photographic "name that rash" app could be cool.

There are already websites that you can use for fueling your hypochondria based on a list of symptoms.

Re:Internet hypochondria is already a phenomenon (2, Funny)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591028)

Actually, this would be perfect for all that hypochondriac that lives more than a few hours walk from a doctor in a third world country, but has a smartphone.

Re:Internet hypochondria is already a phenomenon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32591222)

It's worse. Imagine combining it with these technical challenges [slashdot.org].

If it's a significant technical challenge to even figure out what part of the body is in a photo, imagine the challenge of trying to diagnose a medical problem with such a photo.

Re:Internet hypochondria is already a phenomenon (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591304)

Don't worry, the AMA [wikipedia.org] would never allow it (not in the U.S. anyway). Their main function is to protect the livelihood of their members (aka physicians). Anything that threatens their monopoly is immediately labeled a health hazard and banned in the U.S.

Hmmm (3, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590636)

Because having medical advice available on the internet hasn't led to people flooding GP surgeries because they're convinced their cough is actually Ebola.

Re:Hmmm (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590710)

That's why some health insurance companies provide a complimentary consulting nurse. Basically somebody that's available around the clock to answer those, should I call 911, go to the emergency room, make an appointment or just ignore it suggestions. Obviously they tend to be a bit action biased as doing a screening over the phone isn't easy, but it does help people make better decisions about what is urgent and what can wait.

Re:Hmmm (1)

akadruid (606405) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590786)

In the UK we have NHS Direct [nhsdirect.nhs.uk] which is both 24-7 telephone and online screening and advice, run by the national healthcare system. From personal experience, it's very good.

Re:Hmmm (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590932)

I hope they are better than the stories I've come out of NICE (aka nasty). Over in the State of France they have a screening service, where doctors answer emergency calls directly and can provide medical care immediately, or else send an ambulance if the sick person needs hospital treatment. It has saved the State Government a lot of money by eliminating un-necessary ambulance/hospital visits.

This seems a good idea for the US Member States to copy, hiring actual doctors to handle 911 calls, rather than some minimum wage person. If I was a politician I would shove it through the Legislature, but of course I'm a nobody say I have no say whatsoever. Oh well.

Re:Hmmm (2, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590938)

consulting nurse

Somehow, despite it "requiring" AI, for liability reasons, other than the most trivial of follow up issues, it'll probably end up 99% of the time as a semi-realtime nifty videoconference frontend for existing consulting nurses.

I would also anticipate some "self nursing". Rather than paying someone to glance at a sutured wound, have the patient photograph it with their cellphone and have a centralized nurse (and/or dr) review a stack of pictures at once. Rather than paying a nurse to stick a thermometer in the patients mouth (or, where ever) and wait for a result and record it, the phone might bug the patient to test himself and log his own result.

This idea of a personal universal electronic medical record is kind of interesting, compared to the corporate electronic medical records we are "sort of" seeing deployed.

Re:Hmmm (2)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591066)

Because having medical advice available on the internet hasn't led to people flooding GP surgeries because they're convinced their cough is actually Ebola.

Right, the internet created hypochondriacs, just like videogames created murderers and the Austrian waltz created coveting of ankles.

Al Physician (1)

lowrydr310 (830514) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590644)

I read the title as Al (like short for Albert or Alfred) Physician - I thought to myself, "What a funny name for a doctor."

Dang sans serif fonts...

Re:Al Physician (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591076)

Al Physician is the healthplan of Al Queda.
"Just blow yourself up with this fertilizer and diesel and call me in the morning if the rash is still there."

If it's smallpox, there's a bigger problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32590660)

Since smallpox is the only disease the human race has ever eradicated, an outbreak would be a very big deal. Unless you work in a germ warfare/infectious disease lab, in which caseyou'd already either know what it looks like or have access to people that do.

Bad idea (2, Informative)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590684)

A smartphone cannot perform a physical exam. Enough said.

Re:Bad idea (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32590764)

I've seen evidence that they can do a gyno exam though...

Re:Bad idea (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591098)

Not available medical personel can't perform a physical exam, either (but a phone can connect one with existing personel, if that's required)

Great Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32591106)

True, but doctors these days are often in a hurry and don't do a great exam either (and charge a bunch of money). I'd rather have the info available to me, and use a doctor as a second opinion if I feel it warrants it. Ultimately, my health is my responsibility.

Tell me more (5, Funny)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590690)

Tell me more about X Prize foundation Wants AI Physician On Every Smartphone. /emacs

Re:Tell me more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32591142)

Yow! Legally-imposed CULTURE-reduction is CABBAGE-BRAINED!

Nice idea, but... (3, Interesting)

miaDWZ (820679) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590692)

The thing is going to get killed a week after public release after the AI 'misdiagnosis' someone and they decide to sue.

Re:Nice idea, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32591020)

Yeah because doctors never misdiagnose anyone right?

Re:Nice idea, but... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591288)

Yeah because doctors never get sued and don't have to carry malpractice insurance, right?

Why stem cells specifically? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590694)

Why mention stem cells specifically in the prize description? I'd rather see something like "Create replacement organs in the lab with MTBF of X years" but I guess that doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Different organs lend themselves to different replacement strategies better than others. The first long term implantable artificial hearts are just coming to the market, at the same time stem cells are being used to build the first replacement bladders, also at the same time some basic nanotech is looking at replacing the pancreas. So... why call out stem cells specifically when the future is probably some fusion of many different approaches depending on need, cost, and ease?

Re:Why stem cells specifically? (1)

davaguco (771514) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590904)

I completely agree with you, I have read about many ways to create and replace organs that are being studied, and a lot of them do not involve stem cells.

Slacking (2, Funny)

Coffee Warlord (266564) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590696)

Six posts in and no comments about your phone saying "please state the nature of your medical emergency".

Incredible.

The Doctor Says (1, Funny)

GreggBz (777373) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590706)

Perfect. All you'll need is one of those phones with a built in projector.

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency."

Great idea (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590714)

Lawsuits will be a problem. And though we've got the technology for AI medical diagnosis (at least for some stuff), the visual processing suggested by the story is still a bit beyond us. (Cf. yesterday's story about identifying images of genitals on chatroulette.)

Pissing your money away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32590720)

I think this is one example of techno-utopian overkill.

I think you could spend much less money just getting more meat doctors into the bush.

I think this over estimates the ability of AI and anything limited to pure visual inspection could be accomplished by emailing a picture to a doctor using the phones we have now.

Now if this smart phone could do blood tests, you might have something.

Re:Pissing your money away (2, Funny)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591058)

I think you could spend much less money just getting more meat doctors into the bush.

But how gynecologists do you need?

dr phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32590742)

Maybe its just me, but if your have to walk miles to a Doctor, maybe having a smart phone isnt the best use of your money?

"AI" (1)

trifish (826353) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590796)

Seriously, isn't it time to stop overusing, abusing and misusing the term AI? Such primitive software doesn't come even close to the kind of intelligence people with IQ of 100 or higher have. Thanks.

Re:"AI" (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590898)

Image recognition is certainly an considered a part of "AI" research, because it is still a task which is very simple for humans and very hard for machines. The term "AI" is a bit strange anyway - whenever a goal of AI research is reached, we realise that that task didn't' actually need "intelligence" (whatever that is) - for example, the world chess champion is a machine, and we still don't have consider AI to have arrived. I suspect we won't really notice the point at which machines start to get better at most jobs than humans.

Re:"AI" (2, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590954)

> Image recognition is certainly considered a part of "AI" research...

According to the anti-AI crowd AI is whatever it is that computers can't do yet. There was a time when all agreed that a machine playing a credible game of chess would constitute proof that AI had arrived but now defeating grand masters is "mere computation".

Re:"AI" (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591226)

...yeah. There was a time: the 50's perhaps.

Even before there was a computer big enough to defeat a chess grand master by brute force, such an undertaking would have been described as a weak example of AI.

Re:"AI" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32591234)

The reason for that is that when the problem was first approached, chess wasn't thought to be a game of computation, it was thought to be a game of guile, cunning and strategy. When the IBM researchers solved the problem with the Blue Gene machine, it was only then that the chess fraternity realized that the computer simply broke the game down into a sequence of decision trees,and played the most likely path at any given point. This really is "mere computation", and in no way constitutes intelligence by any sensible definition of the word.

It can play a game of chess, but it can't answer you when you ask it "What colour is my hair?"

No, AI has not arrived, and personally, I never think it will. At least, not in our lifetimes. The complexity of the human mind and the way that it interacts with the world is so monstrously complex that all I think we'll ever be able to do is simulate various aspects of it. We *may* one day simulate intelligence convincingly, but it'll never be convincing enough that we need the likes of Voight Kampff tests.

True AI belongs in the realm of anti-gravity machines and other sci-fi tech so wonderfully far away that the only real use they have is as plot-crutches in movies.

Hmm, maybe I should write my own AI doctor app (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590806)

Of course I wouldn't want to get sued so my app would just tell you to go see a real doctor you idiot no matter what happened.

Yeah... (4, Interesting)

SolitaryMan (538416) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590810)

Especially for the billion plus people around the world who live more than a few hours walk or drive from the nearest doctor.

Yeah, to all four of them, who actually have a smartphone

The diagnosis is... (4, Funny)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590814)

"You have severe inflammation of the cerebral cortex, human. The only cure is to wire your brain into the AI Overmind. Proceed at once to the nearest Community Conversion Center."

Privacy Concerns Abound (1)

Eric_ColonSlashSlash (1469177) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590816)

They need to pay particular attention to privacy concerns if the phone were to have any gathered physiological data or even self described symptoms - I wouldn’t want that information hacked or even disseminated under the best of intentions.... “Look – he’s having a heart attack or early onset diabetes – let’s cancel his healthcare [insurers] or blackmail him [hackers]”

Re:Privacy Concerns Abound (1)

joh (27088) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590998)

They need to pay particular attention to privacy concerns if the phone were to have any gathered physiological data or even self described symptoms - I wouldn’t want that information hacked or even disseminated under the best of intentions....

“Look – he’s having a heart attack or early onset diabetes – let’s cancel his healthcare [insurers] or blackmail him [hackers]”

I think if Google would look at all health-related search terms they'd have a good base for that even now... and maybe they already do.

Re:Privacy Concerns Abound (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591332)

Seriously, you think it's plausbile that would stop people from letting a mobile / etc. monitor their health?
Oh, the wonders of corporate medical system?...

A few hours walk from the nearest doctor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32590824)

The nearest doctor is a several hours away walking. I don't have a car and there are no roads. But thanks to the AI software on my smartphone and ubiquitous 4G coverage, I have quality health care at my fingertips.

to bad high data rates will kill this and roaming (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590858)

to bad high data rates will kill this and roaming fees can make seeing a real doctor cost less.

How many people... (3, Insightful)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590870)

How many people in the world that live several hours walk from a doctor or hospital have smartphones? How well does that smartphone work with no coverage? I don't think they tend to put in cell towers in areas where the nearest human population complex is 30 miles away.

Re:How many people... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591012)

> I don't think they tend to put in cell towers in areas where the nearest
> human population complex is 30 miles away.

ROFL. I live 30 miles (a 15 minute drive) from the nearest hospital. We have excellent cell phone coverage.

Re:How many people... (1)

3dr (169908) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591240)

Patient: I've walked for six hours to get to your clinic, I'm famished and have severe abdominal pains. I need to recharge.

Nurse: We'll get you some water and take a look.

Patient: I'm not talking about thirst, I'm talking about my Android phone!

Re:How many people... (1)

nanter (613346) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591318)

I spent a couple of weeks in rural Honduras on a medical mission, and we were in a remote village where there was no clean water, goats roamed the dirt "streets," people lived in mud huts, and to get to the closest physician you had to walk about 20 hours to the nearest town. No electricity and no land lines.

Yet, a bunch of people in this town had cell phones, and service was available and reliable. Honduras's cell coverage was far better than the coverage here in the states, and people in dirty poor areas use them as their only means of communication to the outside world, oftentimes to their relatives in the United States. Doctors without Borders put in a clinic that can be used by visiting physicians, and it has solar panels. People pay a nominal fee to charge their phones off the solar panels.

Smart phones? Yeah, I didn't see any of those. But as they become more ubiquitous and less expensive, I can see them taking hold even in places like this.

I dunno... (1)

mgierhart (1823976) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590872)

...the whole "dermatologist camera" idea sounds cool, but what about internal afflictions? The article says it can tell you whether you're having heartburn or a heart attack--how? What makes this any more reliable than WebMD? Speaking of WebMD, the self-diagnosis numbers are going to go through the roof. I'm sure the ER docs are just going to LOVE this...

As a non AI physician (3, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590878)

This is a terrible idea. However I guarantee that the AI algorithm will have a "success" rate of around 85%, since that is the rate at which illnesses spontaneously cure themselves. This rate is why homeopathy, snake oil salesmen, faith healers and all other forms of shamans and charlatans manage to convince people of their effectiveness. Too bad that 15% of the patients will suffer permanent disability or die using these methods. That's the part of the statistic we doctors manage to concentrate on and improve, the 15% that really need help...

Re:As a non AI physician (1)

BlueBoxSW.com (745855) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590968)

That's an interesting stat. I never heard that before, but it makes sense.

As a non-physician, AI hobbyist, this article makes me sad.

Computers have so much potential to improve the quality and decrease the costs of healthcare, yet this almost never happens.

Instead, we end of with complex systems meant to mitigate legal liability, expensive system whose sole purpose is to provide another billable test, and IT departments that care more about building fiefdoms than enabling improvements in patient care.

Want to know the difference between poison ivy and smallpox? You could ask 2 questions to tell the difference, but this wouldn't provide a cool image-recognition demo. No one is going to get an X prize for pushing text to a smartphone.

Re:As a non AI physician (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591232)

What if you or your colleagues aren't available (or at least not in sufficient numbers) at a given place? Isn't it worthwhile to at least try to help part of those remaining 15%? (don't tell me you can help all of them...)

BTW, do you have any solid source at hand for thise 85% stat? Might be useful to me.

Re:As a non AI physician (3, Insightful)

oddTodd123 (1806894) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591296)

Doctors are notoriously stubborn and arrogant about their abilities, and they refuse to believe that a significant share of medical practice can be routinized to be performed by much lower skilled and educated people. From simple hand washing [google.com] to using checklists [google.com], doctors have steadfastly resisted any change that implies they could be doing their job better, or that someone with less training could do the same job.

Nobody is suggesting the smartphone perform open heart surgery, but if it can use image recognition on a rash to tell you to try calamine lotion before going to see a dermatologist, that can save everyone a lot of time and money. Or, to use a personal example, after I fell on my shoulder, it could guide me through a series of tests (of the type "does it hurt when you do X?") and suggest I may have an AC joint separation and I should see an orthopedist. In the last example, I was originally diagnosed over the phone (by a non-orthopedist doctor) after exactly that experience. The default choice in a case such as mine would be to go to the ER. That would have turned out to be an inefficient and expensive choice and wasted a lot of people's time.

Uh oh (2, Insightful)

WetCat (558132) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590882)

Why do you need AI physician if you already have a phone? Just send a real physician (non-American, of course, because US physicians are really overpriced ones thanks to various professional insurances and malpractice lawsuits) a MMS with your views and symptoms. That will be better analyzed, anyhow.

Billions of People.. with smartphones? (1)

PolyDwarf (156355) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590888)

The possibilities are enormous, especially for the billion plus people around the world who live more than a few hours' walk or drive from the nearest doctor."

And yet... they'll have smartphones?

I know, a lot of countries skip land lines and go to cell phones... but all those people who live hours away from the nearest doctor will have smartphones (as opposed to normal cell phones)?

Re:Billions of People.. with smartphones? (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590922)

In the future all phones will be smart... really, really smart. Maybe they'll even be able to create clean water supplies, build sewage infrastructure, and terraform in-arable land into something productive so that people don't starve, either!

The AMA is gonna be pissed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32590906)

Considering how unfriendly the American Medical Association originally was to giving Nurse Practitioners diagnostic/prescriptive authority, I can't imagine they're gonna be happy about conferring it onto inanimate objects.

Re:The AMA is gonna be pissed (2, Funny)

pseudorand (603231) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591004)

> inanimate objects.

Except for the iPhone, which doesn't run Flash, most smart phones can do animation these days.

dumb smartphone idea (1)

jackspenn (682188) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590910)

Especially for the billion plus people around the world who live more than a few hours walk or drive from the nearest doctor

This is brilliant logic, because all of the peole I know who live more then a few hours from the nearest doctor are all about 3.5 hours from decent 3G coverage (more if they have AT&T).

People are retarded, what's next we plan on giving kids who are primarily worried about starving or being shot at by the rival drug gang in Africa a laptop?

Re:dumb smartphone idea (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591118)

Especially for the billion plus people around the world who live more than a few hours walk or drive from the nearest doctor

This is brilliant logic, because all of the peole I know who live more then a few hours from the nearest doctor are all about 3.5 hours from decent 3G coverage (more if they have AT&T). People are retarded, what's next we plan on giving kids who are primarily worried about starving or being shot at by the rival drug gang in Africa a laptop?

Of course, this way we only need a couple of laptops with the disclaimer "upon death the laptop returns to the previous owner".

Mobile drug test (1)

desertjedi85 (1701804) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590920)

Immediately proceeding this app will be the mobile drug test app. Just pee on your phone and see what color it turns.

Words fail me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32590982)

I have lived in places and seen people who are few hours walk/drive away from a doctor. Let me tell you, if you are few hours walk away from a doctor, then you probably do not have an internet connection let alone mobile internet. A doctor would come to your town far ahead of the Internet facility.

Diagnostics versus differential diagnosis (1)

debrain (29228) | more than 3 years ago | (#32590990)

The notion of creating a diagnostic heuristic isn't particularly novel, and given the frailty of human memory and other inadequacies of the human brain it has the potential to eliminate a significant number of errors in medical diagnoses. The problem with a machine doing this, in my experience, is the diagnostic component -- many diagnoses are based upon the physician's qualitative interpretation of the patient's symptoms (i.e. as experienced diagnosticians).

Nevertheless, somebody clever will undoubtedly eventually create a medical diagnostic tool on a smart phone, which will be of incredible value – reducing the cost of both physicians and their diagnostic mistakes in the medical services industry. Let's just hope such an application doesn't become another pharmaceutical delivery medium (as I have heard physicians referred to by some marketing people in big pharma).

Re:Diagnostics versus differential diagnosis (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591292)

IOW: a machine will be as good as a "nurse practicioner" or a mediocre physician.

I HATE it when someone wants to shove a nurse-pretending-to-be-a-doctor in my face. Mediocre HMO doctors are bad enough.

The Simpsons (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591024)

This brings back memories of The Simpsons when Lisa types in Homer and Bart's symptoms into the virtual doctor. The virtual doctor a la Steven Case spews out, "You've got .... leprosy"

Reality imitates Science Fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32591032)

" Please state the nature of the medical emergency "

Thank You For Calling iDoc (1)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591078)

# Press 1 for heart attacks
# Press 2 for aneurysm symptoms
# Press 3 for severed limbs or profuse bleeding

Please stay on hold while we contact a physician for you

[..musak...]

That reminds me of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32591114)

a escape pod episode on a handheld boyfriend

http://escapepod.org/2009/09/17/ep216-%CE%B2oyfriend/

I'm a doctor, not a smartphone (1)

PJ6 (1151747) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591172)

With voice recognition we can use Voyager's Doctor as the screen UI. Maybe use the built-in camera so he can actually take a look, too. I say it's a bit early for this, but we're close.

A job for an expert system (1)

seibai (1805884) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591182)

It's been relatively well established that expert systems can have high success rates for diagnosing diseases within a limited scope(for instance, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycin [wikipedia.org]).

I can imagine something more general could be put together. The main cost is in acquiring the data; the coding itself is trivial. And you could have it tell you to see a human physician when the confidence level is low. A heavy disclaimer would probably be necessary though.

Location, location, location... (1)

Lemental (719730) | more than 3 years ago | (#32591224)

What if the rash is in an area that is a little more personal than the leg? How can we integrate this with Chat Roulette?

For the rest of us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32591264)

As an American (estadounidense) living in a very small rural town in Mexico, where what often passes for a doctor is the guy who but a sign reading 'Doctor' out side of his house. And a medical exam consists of poking your belly and prescribing a wide spectrum antibiotic, I don't think this is an all together bad idea. Yes, for those fortunate enough to live near actual medical professionals I can easily see how it would be very problematic and perhaps lead to more harm than good.

It fills the same role that books like "Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook."

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