Coronavirus tests the value of artificial intelligence in medicine


Two X-ray images show a patient’s diseased lungs. Using an artificial intelligence program developed by Dr Hsiao and his colleagues at the UC San Diego Health system, the image on the right has been dotted with spots of color indicating where there may be lung damage or other signs of pneumonia. — Dr Albert Hsiao/KHN/TNS

Dr Albert Hsiao and his colleagues at the UC San Diego health system in the United States had been working for 18 months on an artificial intelligence (AI) program designed to help doctors identify pneumonia on a chest X-ray. When the coronavirus hit the United States, they decided to see what it could do.

The researchers quickly deployed their program, which dots X-ray images with spots of colour where there may be lung damage or other signs of pneumonia. It has now been applied to more than 6,000 chest X-rays, and it’s providing some value in diagnosis, said Dr Hsiao, the director of UCSD’s augmented imaging and artificial intelligence data analytics laboratory.

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