From Cheap Phone Calls with Doctors to Machine Learning Second Opinions for Patients who are already in the Care of an Oncologist

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Teladoc taps IBM Watson machine learning for second opinion service

Can a quick phone call substitute for a Doctor Visit

mHealth Insights

This is a classic case of wait long enough and the crazy becomes real. Can you even begin to imagine the typical Patient experience?

1) Go to your Doctor with some symptoms
2) Get Tests done
3) Go to your Doctor and get test results and referral to an oncologist
4) Go to Oncologist and get diagnosis and treatment plan
5) Pick up prescriptions
6) Go home and press some buttons on your mobile
7) A Doctor you don’t know video calls you and based on a program run on your electronic health record information tells you (33% of the time) that your oncologist’s diagnosis is incorrect and that (66% of the time) you need to change the treatment.
8) Patients will be expected by their insurers to follow the advice given to them by a Doctor over a Video Call who has never read or understood why they are giving you this advice. Don’t accept this and you’ll not get approval for treatment.

I understand most other national Cancer Care systems are also fundamentally flawed but only in a topsy turvy world focused on serving the needs of the US Health Insurers does this make any sense. I imagine Apple are going to do very well with their new Healthcare clinics and strategic decision to not focus on Patients (and not reimbursement).

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I think IBM is going to make huge profits out of the misaligned incentives in the US sickcare system as the following is going to happen in quick succession:

1) A law firm is going to start advertising to Patients who are googling their diagnosis/medications encouraging them to use the second opinion service to see if their IBMWatsonOncologist has made an incorrect diagnosis (highly likely as they are going to be making decisions based on US Healthcare Records that are in many cases just detailed billing records) and treatment recommendation and if they are entitled to compensation.

2) Rival law firms will start advertising to Patients who are in the care of IBM Watson finding problems with the algorithms and winning claims against IBM

3) Either IBMWatson will go bankrupt or the medical indemnity insurers will require Oncologists to use the IBM Watson system before giving a diagnosis (otherwise their insurance will become unaffordable)

4) Oncology Patients will realise this is a race driven by expensive law firms and legalese and have to choose to either complete exhaustive tests, questionnaires and wearing of medical sensors or accept that they don’t want paint by numbers medicine and will let their Oncologist have their autonomy back.

5) Patients will become more accepting of the idea of sharing information electronically with a Doctor instead of Going to get help.

Can’t wait to find out more on Monday at HIMSS18 in Las Vegas. See you there?

Related posts:

If AI is supposed to be all about trust why has IBM Watson seemingly been programmed to generate hype & operate like a dodgy accountant? (Feb, 2017)

Can the IBM Watson team move beyond creating Paint by Number Style Medicine and grasp the disruptive innovation opportunity? (July 2013)

Will IBM’s Watson write for CNN before treating patients? (Feb 2012)


About David Doherty
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