Australians ready for robots to diagnose health

Peter Terlato 12 January 2017 NEWS

Robot nurse doctor medical diagnosis ai

Artificial intelligence also trusted to prescribe treatments.

A new study investigating the future of medicine reveals Australians are enthusiastic about the potential applications of artificial intelligence (AI) within the health care system.

The research, carried out by not-for-profit health fund HCF, found the majority (80%) Aussies would be comfortable with AI being used to diagnose common medical problems and interpret patient test results.

Respondents were also keen (72%) on exploring how AI could assist in prescribing treatment options.

However, HCF's inaugural Health Barometer Survey also identified a level of ambivalence, uncertainty and hesitation towards the advancement of technology within medicine.

Less than two thirds (58%) of Aussies think AI would improve early disease detection and reduce deaths.

There was also mixed feedback in terms of confidence in the accuracy (57%), efficiency (50%) and ability of artificial intelligence to keep extended-stay and long-term patients comfortable (53%).

Just over half (53%) believe AI will reduce constraints on the current health system, while a smaller proportion (46%) think embracing technology will help to free up medical staff for more imperative tasks.

Patient privacy and confidentiality (58%) and a lack of human intuition (57%) were major concerns.

In November, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) claimed Australia had "reached a crisis point" in public hospital funding, reflected by deteriorating bed ratios and unimproved or worsening wait times.

"It’s clear that Australians can see the benefit of technological advancements in health, particularly where it can be used to prevent disease and improve patient care," HCF managing director Shaun Larkin said.

Trying to decide which hospital option is better for you? It's sensible to compare public and private cover, consider wait times and safety and understand how to claim health insurance when visiting.

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