AI symptom checkers reduce unnecessary hospital visits

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Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered symptom checkers have experienced something of a renaissance over the past decade. Patients are often inclined to look for their symptoms, sometimes even before asking to see a doctor. Instead of relying on the so-called “Dr. Google” to determine the cause of their condition, AI symptom checkers can help give an idea of ​​what might go wrong.

Infermedica, an AI-powered pre-diagnostic platform, develops tools for patients and physicians. In addition to its Symptom Checker app, designed to guide patients to timely and appropriate care, the company also offers call center triage and AI-based software designed to help call operators make inquiries. triage recommendations and the Infermedica API, an application programming interface that allows users to create custom diagnostic solutions from scratch.

Company founder and CEO Piotr Orzechowski says he was inspired by Akinator, a popular online game in the 2010s that attempts to guess a character the player is thinking about.

Orzechowski says: “I was playing it with a friend of mine who is a doctor. We were really fascinated and wondered if we could apply a similar concept of Q&A to medical symptoms?

“The idea was to replace Dr Google with something more polished, developed by clinicians but also continuously improved over time. What we are offering today is a series of apps, primarily aimed at patients, to sort out your issues if you feel sick and don’t know where or when to see a doctor.

Pediatric solutions

Infermedica recently released a new pediatric solution, which integrates with all of its existing AI tools, to deliver primary healthcare recommendations to patients of all ages. While the platforms previously focused on people aged 18 or older, they are now compatible even with newborn care.

Ozrechowski says: “It took us almost three years. It was a huge challenge to create entirely new medical content, we had to hire a new team of doctors for clinical validation, but we were finally able to release our symptom checker extension earlier this month. We now cover over 200 illnesses in different age groups, which is over 90% of illness coverage according to statistical reports on What’s Most Common.

Outpatient physicians rated the solution’s triage recommendations as safe 96.7% of the time.

The solutions work from a caregiver’s perspective, meaning all questions are tailored to the parent or clinician using the software. He may also request information about the child’s parents, siblings or grandparents if necessary, as well as take into account the exact date of birth as this may impact recommendations for very young children. .

After all, the questions are answered, the platforms will indicate whether the child should see a doctor immediately or whether his parent should self-administer home care and see how the disease progresses. It also provides simple instructions for basic exams a parent can do at home to assess their child’s health.

Users do not need to log into the platform or provide any personal information, which makes the platform more secure than some comparable data that requires users to create an account.

Ozrechowski says: “A lot of times we go to see a doctor when in fact personal care is more appropriate. Infermedica increases the rate of self-care decisions because we calm people down. We say, “It’s not a brain tumor, it’s just a migraine.” The increase in the rate of self-care obviously allows savings to be made, whether in a public or private health system.

“Tools like Infermedica can increase the uptake of telemedicine. It’s not just about sorting out and telling you to go home or see a doctor. Which channel you choose is also important, and AI or in general algorithms like ours can categorize and determine whether or not your symptoms are suitable for telemedicine. If you have an ear infection, you don’t have an otoscope at home.

Tools for healthcare professionals

In addition to helping inform patients’ decisions to seek care at home wherever possible, Infermedica’s platforms have also been shown to reduce emergency room visits. The company has partnered with Médis, a large health insurer in Portugal, to implement the Call Center Triage tool in the Médis clinical contact center.

Comparison of clients’ initial intention before calling the Medis Clinical Contact Center with the final recommendation informed by the Infermedica tool indicated that the tool has unnecessary urgent care visits. While 17% of clients initially intended to seek emergency care, only 8% received referrals to do so, while 35% received recommendations for self-care at home.

Infermedica is currently developing a tool for use in daily clinical practice.

This new platform will take the form of an intelligent survey that patients can carry out before their visit to their general practitioner (GP). The platform is designed to give physicians insight into their patients’ symptoms and potential diagnoses before they even walk through the door – or log into a telemedicine platform, as the case may be – and should help them. clinicians to spend more time engaging with their patients, as well as generating more comprehensive medical records.

Ozrechowski says, “Documenting the visit takes up to 40% of the total time you spend with your GP. This new offer will speak to the patient before the visit and then present a very nicely summarized note to a doctor. We hope this will make physicians happier and save time on manual data entry. ”

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