Bloomberg – A woman with late-stage breast cancer came to a city hospital, fluids already flooding her lungs.
She saw two doctors and got a radiology scan. The hospital’s computers read her vital signs and estimated a 9.3 percent chance she would die during her stay.
Then came Google’s turn. A new type of algorithm created by the company read up on the woman — 175,639 data points — and rendered its assessment of her death risk: 19.9 percent. She passed away in a matter of days.
The harrowing account of the unidentified woman’s death was published by Google in May in research highlighting the health-care potential of neural networks, a form of artificial intelligence software that’s particularly good at using data to automatically learn and improve.
Google had created a tool that could forecast a host of patient outcomes, including how long people may stay in hospitals, their odds of re-admission and chances they will soon die.
What impressed medical experts most was Google’s ability to sift through data previously out of reach: notes buried in PDFs or scribbled on old charts.
The neural net gobbled up all this unruly information then spat out predictions. And it did it far faster and more accurately than existing techniques. Google’s system even showed which records led it to conclusions.
Hospitals, doctors and other health-care providers have been trying for years to better use stockpiles of electronic health records and other patient data.
More information shared and highlighted at the right time could save lives — and at the very least help medical workers spend less time on paperwork and more time on patient care. But current methods of mining health data are costly, cumbersome and time-consuming.
As much as 80 percent of the time spent on today’s predictive models goes to the “scut work” of making the data presentable … Read more.
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