Google’s Medical AI Chatbot Undergoes Testing in Hospitals

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Med-PaLM 2, Google’s medical AI chatbot, is currently undergoing testing at the Mayo Clinic and other healthcare institutions in the United States. This tool, designed to provide medical-related answers, could prove particularly beneficial in countries with limited access to healthcare services. Despite some accuracy issues, Med-PaLM 2 shows promising results.

Since April, Google’s latest AI chatbot designed for medical inquiries has been undergoing testing at the Mayo Clinic and other healthcare institutions in the US. Med-PaLM 2 is a modified version of PaLM 2, which was announced at Google I/O earlier this year. PaLM 2 is a language model that powers Google Bard.

According to internal correspondence reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Google believes that the enhanced model could be particularly useful in countries with “limited access to healthcare services.” Med-PaLM 2 was trained on carefully curated examples or demonstrations provided by medical experts, making it more effective in patient health dialogues compared to typical AI chatbots like Bard, Bing, and ChatGPT.

The report also cites a study published by Google in May, which revealed that Med-PaLM 2 still faces some accuracy issues that developers have been learning to address in larger language models. During the study, doctors found more inaccuracies and irrelevant information in responses provided by Google Med-PaLM and Med-PaLM 2 compared to responses from other physicians.

Nevertheless, in almost all other aspects such as argument justifications, consensus-backed answers, or absence of signs of misunderstanding, Med-PaLM 2 performed comparably to real doctors. The WSJ states that customers testing Med-PaLM 2 will retain control over their medical data, which will be encrypted, and even Google will not have access to it.

According to Greg Corrado, Senior Director of Research at Google, Med-PaLM 2 is still in the early stages of development. While Corrado stated that he wouldn’t want it to be part of his family’s “medical journey,” which includes everything from the initial doctor’s visit and diagnosis to treatment, rehabilitation, and ongoing monitoring, he believes that Med-PaLM 2 “expands the use of AI in healthcare by a factor of 10.”

The Google medical AI chatbot can be seen as a significant step forward in healthcare. Despite some accuracy issues identified during research, overall results show that this tool can be effective, particularly in countries with limited access to healthcare services. However, as emphasized by Greg Corrado, Google’s Senior Director of Research, Med-PaLM 2 is still in the early stages of development, making ongoing testing crucial for greater diagnostic accuracy and patient safety.

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Martin Harris
I'm Martin Harris, a tech writer with extensive experience, contributing to global publications. Trained in Computer Science, I merged my technical know-how with writing, becoming a technology journalist. I've covered diverse topics like AI and consumer electronics, contributing to top tech platforms. I participate in tech events for knowledge updating. Besides writing, I enjoy reading, photography, and aim to clarify technology's complexities to readers.

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