The ‘virtual doctor’ when fully developed, will serve as a disease diagnostic assistant (diagnosis chatbot), conducting a thorough symptom investigation and preparing a diagnostic report for doctors. Besides, it will also serve as the first point of contact for the ailing people in remote areas where doctors are hard to reach.
The initiative for this unique, people-friendly research has been taken by IIT Patna scholar Abhishek Tiwari who has been awarded the highly prestigious Prime Minister Research Fellowship for the project. IIT Patna’s associate professor Sriparna Saha, IIT Mumbai’s professor Pushpak Bhattacharya and AIIMS Rishikesh senior doctor Minakshi Dhar are all collaborating with him on this project.
Explaining this user-friendly technique, Tiwari said artificial intelligence-based clinical decision support is gaining ever-growing popularity in both the research and industry communities. One such manifestation is automatic disease diagnosis, which aims to assist clinicians in conducting symptom investigation and disease diagnosis. “We are building a novel end-to-end Multimodal Disease Diagnosis Virtual Assistant (MDD-VA) using reinforcement learning techniques. The proposed MDD-VA will outperform multiple uni- modal baselines in both automatic and human evaluation“, he said.
He claimed that the current work is the first attempt that proposes and builds a multimodal disease diagnosis system. He pointed out that as per WHO estimates, there will be more than 14.5 million healthcare workforce shortages by 2030, despite an increase in 40 million health-sector jobs. In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected universal health coverage in recent years.
Hence, this virtual doctor would prove a boon for the people of the developing countries, he said. He pointed out that Dr Dhar has been providing the guidelines for the expected behaviour of the AI-based junior doctor and continuously examining the ongoing progress.
The researchers and doctors have been working on the project since last year, and they are expecting it to be ready for final screening and deployment by 2024, he said. Saha said that the virtual doctor (Dr V) will help remote populations access better healthcare services, including early diagnosis. The successful completion of the project will promote a massive advancement in the field of telemedicine.
She pointed out that in our country, the number of doctors is much less than the actual requirement. Besides, our government hospitals are constantly overcrowded with patients. Hence, this App will help doctors save time and efficiently diagnose the patient.