How China’s Biggest Search Engine Aims to Fix a Huge Crisis in Health Care: A Bot
Baidu — China’s biggest search engine — introduced an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot on Tuesday to connect with patients, field medical questions and suggest diagnoses to doctors.
The company is calling the bot — a new feature of the Baidu Doctor app it launched last year — Melody the medical assistant. Baidu has developed advanced deep learning and natural language processing technologies to power Melody’s artificially intelligent “brain.”
The bot is designed to be the first port of call for a person feeling sick at home. A patient poses a health query to Melody, which responds in real time with further questions, and compares responses with Baidu’s database of medical information. All that data gets crunched, and Melody then poses a possible diagnosis to a doctor who can then recommend next steps.
Artificial intelligence is seen as one way to help compensate for the global dearth of qualified medical professionals, a problem experts predict will only get worse. There will be a global shortfall of almost 13 million health-care professionals within two decades, according to the World Health Organization.