Automated programs are likely to play a key role in finding cures for some of the most difficult-to-treat diseases. PHOTO: AFP

Automated programs are likely to play a key role in finding cures for some of the most difficult-to-treat diseases. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: Your next doctor could very well be a bot. And bots, or automated programs, are likely to play a key role in finding cures for some of the most difficult-to-treat diseases and conditions.

Artificial intelligence is rapidly moving into health care, led by some of the biggest technology companies and emerging startups using it to diagnose and respond to a raft of conditions.

Consider these examples:

— California researchers detected cardiac arrhythmia with 97 percent accuracy on wearers of an Apple Watch with the AI-based Cariogram application, opening up early treatment options to avert strokes.

— Scientists from Harvard and the University of Vermont developed a machine learning tool — a type of AI that enables computers to learn without being explicitly programmed — to better identify depression by studying Instagram posts, suggesting “new avenues for early screening and detection of mental illness.”

— Researchers from Britain’s University of Nottingham created an algorithm that predicted heart attacks better than doctors using conventional guidelines.

While technology has always played a role in medical care, a wave of investment from Silicon Valley and a flood of data from connected devices appear to be spurring innovation.

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