Data Science And Doctor Visits

Electronic Doctor Visit

I recently received a message from one of the local hospitals. It stated that I can now have an electronic visit with my doctor. Here is how I understand it works. I fill out a brief questionnaire explaining some of my symptoms and submit it online. Within one day, my doctor will review my submission and respond. Obviously, this electronic visit should only be used for minor medical issues such as a common cold or a prescription update.

Why?

Being the type of person I am, I initially questioned why the hospital was really doing this. Sure the hospital will be able to help more patients and make more money, but is there something more?

The Data

Think of the data that is collected in this process: a patient entered description of the symptoms and the doctors diagnosis. It appears the hospital is building a training set of data with description of symptoms and a diagnosis. It is a very short step to apply a machine learning algorithm or two and totally automate the process. Maybe this is already done and my doctor just signs off on the result.

Here is how envision the system working:

  1. Use some natural language processing to identify the symptoms
  2. Match the symptoms to some known illness via machine learning
  3. Report the diagnosis and treatment
  4. Prescribe medicine if necessary

What Do You Think?

How do you feel about this process? I am sure there are some companies working on just this problem. Who are those companies?


Note: Yes, I know this data is currently collected by hospitals, but a human (nurse or doctor) interprets what another human is saying before entering the data. The electronic visit just made me realize how easy it would be to automate a doctor’s job for common problems.

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