Can Artificial Intelligence Compete With Real Doctors?

Authored by Michael Scott via Safehaven.com,

In the race for world dominance in advanced technology, Chinese artificial intelligence is also taking on its own doctors, with a new system claiming to diagnose brain tumors faster and more accurately than human physicians.

BioMind, developed by Beijing’s Tiantan Hospital and its AI research center for neurological disorders, has told Chinese media that the new system has correctly diagnosed 87 percent of 225 cases in only 15 minutes. That compares to only a 66-percent accuracy rate for the same by a team of 15 senior physicians.

Further, BioMind, according to China’s Xinhua news agency, was able to predict brain hematoma expansions better than human doctors, registering an 83-percent rate of accuracy against a 63-perent rate of accuracy for the cream of the crop of Beijing’s senior physicians.

Feeding the system with thousands of images and patient diagnoses from over a decade, BioMind was able to extrapolate and deliver on complicated neurological diseases.

The brains behind BioMind are hoping that it will remove any lingering doubts doctors may have about AI. They also seem to think it won’t replace physicians; rather, it will simply reduce their workloads, describing BioMind as a sort of GPS driven by humans.

But the bigger picture here is China’s increasing advantage in artificial intelligence, particularly when it comes to medicine. China’s rural hospitals would benefit the most because they are at a serious disadvantage, while city hospitals are over-crowded.

With reportedly just over two doctors for every 1,000 people and a rapidly aging population, China needs AI urgently.

And for China, this is by no means a first foray into AI for healthcare. One hospital in Guangzhou province uses AI is nearly everything, from pre-diagnosis and CT scans to patient records and a slew of other administrative tasks. 

AI is also a key part of the Made in China 2025 plan, which foresees China becoming a global leader in tech. So, this breakthrough in AI for medicine should rankle in Washington, if only because it demonstrates just how far Beijing has gone in this race. First its medicine, but then what?

And the BioMind competition between AI and humans was meant for high-end public consumption, too. The message is that China is an AI forced with which to be reckoned, and the competition was televised with a great deal of blitz and bling.

In 2016, the total global AI in healthcare market was valued at around $1.4 billion. By 2023, it is forecast to hit over $22.7 billion, according to Allied Market Research, which puts CAGR for this sub-sector at 48.7 percent from 2017 to 2023.

And while China is racing to the finish line here, it’s worth noting that North America was the biggest contributor to AI in healthcare in 2016. But that’s a title that may not have much longevity because Allied forecasts that Asia-Pacific will see the highest growth rate in this market from now until 2023.

Other areas of AI in healthcare are also coming to the forefront quickly, including 3D printing for everything from organs to medicine, and diagnostics outside the realm of neurology.