Doctors reject AI chatbot that is 'more accurate than a GP'

Royal College of GPs say no app can replace human physicians

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has dismissed claims a chatbot can diagnose medical conditions as accurately as a GP.

Babylon Health unveiled its new bot at an event held at the Royal College of Physicians yesterday, saying it allows patients to contact the bot via an app without an appointment, with the bot offering health advice based on what patients tell it.

The company said the chatbot, Babylon AI, has achieved medical exam scores of the same level as or higher than a human doctor.

But its claims were disputed by the RCGP.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

"No app or algorithm will be able to do what a GP does," said Professor Martin Marshall, vice chair of the RCGP.

"Every day we deliver care to more than a million people across the UK, taking into account the physical, psychological and social factors that may be impacting on a patient's health."

"The potential of technology to support doctors to deliver the best possible patient care is fantastic, but at the end of the day, computers are computers, and GPs are highly-trained medical professionals; the two can't be compared and the former may support but will never replace the latter," he said.

Professor Marshall added that while an app can pass an automated clinical knowledge test, in real life, clinical scenarios don't always have "cut and dried" answers.

Babylon Health said its new Babylon AI tool took part in a series of robust tests, including the relevant sections of the MRCGP exam, which is the final test for a trainee GP and set by the Royal College of GPs.

The average pass mark over the past five years for real-life doctors is 72%, whereas Babylon's AI scored 81%.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Ali Parsa, Babylon's founder and CEO, said the results showed how AI can globally support healthcare and provide accurate health advice regardless of circumstance.

"Tonight's results clearly illustrate how AI-augmented health services can reduce the burden on healthcare systems around the world," Dr Parsa said.

"Our mission is to put accessible and affordable health services into the hands of every person on Earth. These landmark results take humanity a significant step closer to achieving a world where no-one is denied safe and accurate health advice."

The company is also behind the NHS's GP at Hand app, which allows patients at five London clinics to consult with their GP via a video call.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

But the College also publicly criticised the GP at Hand app for "cherry-picking" patients, leaving traditional GP services to deal with the most complex patients without sufficient resources, and does not endorse Babylon, or its GP at Hand service, being used in this way by in the NHS.

"Technology has the potential to transform the NHS, but it must be implemented in an equitable way that doesn't benefit some patients, and not others, and is not to the detriment of the general practice service as a whole," Marshall said.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Picture: Babylon Health founder Ali Parsa at Wednesday's launch

Featured Resources

How inkjet can transform your business

Get more out of your business by investing in the right printing technology

Download now

Journey to a modern workplace with Office 365: which tools and when?

A guide to how Office 365 builds a modern workplace

Download now

Modernise and transform your sales organisation

Learn how a modernised sales process can drive your business

Download now

Your guide to managing cloud transformation risk

Realise the benefits. Mitigate the risks

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/technology/33077/health-secretary-bans-pagers-from-nhs-hospitals
Technology

Health Secretary bans pagers from NHS hospitals

25 Feb 2019
Visit/technology/artificial-intelligence-ai/354766/mit-develops-ai-tech-to-edit-outdated-wikipedia
artificial intelligence (AI)

MIT develops AI tech to edit outdated Wikipedia articles

13 Feb 2020
Visit/technology/33253/toyota-partners-with-nvidia-to-create-the-future-of-autonomous-vehicles
Technology

Toyota, NVIDIA partner on self-driving cars

20 Mar 2019

Most Popular

Visit/mobile/28299/how-to-use-chromecast-without-wi-fi
Mobile

How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi

5 Feb 2020
Visit/technology/artificial-intelligence-ai/354796/ai-identifies-11-earth-bound-asteroids
artificial intelligence (AI)

AI identifies 11 earth-bound asteroids

18 Feb 2020
Visit/business/business-operations/354790/hp-shareholders-invited-to-come-dine-with-xerox
Business operations

HP shareholders invited to come dine with Xerox

17 Feb 2020
Visit/operating-systems/27717/how-to-fix-a-stuck-windows-10-update
operating systems

How to fix a stuck Windows 10 update

12 Feb 2020