According to the Japanese health ministry, as of 2012, around 4.62 million Japanese people were living with dementia. By 2025, that number is expected to rise to more than 7 million. But working out of Tokyo, data analysis company, Fronteo, is aiming to begin clinical trials of a new artificial intelligence program that could drastically cut down dementia diagnosis time.
As soon as early next year, the diagnostic tool will be used to analyse five – ten minutes of conversation between a patient and their doctor. Once the conversations have been analysed, diagnosis should only take about one minute.
The system, which takes the conversations between doctors and patients and transcribes them into text, uses the transcription to analyse the structure and word choice of the patient. The doctor then takes the AI analysis to help make their final diagnosis. So far, during basic testing, the system has accurately diagnosed dementia 85% of the time, which is a similar percentage achieved by medical specialists.
Taking the system into clinical trials will further test the program’s accuracy as it is used in more real world diagnosis environments. As the objective diagnosis of dementia can be difficult, requiring a series of interviews and subjective judgement, Fronteo hopes this new AI system can help doctors make more efficient diagnosis, even if they are not specialists.
So far, AI is only being used to analyse images in licensed medical equipment, such as endoscopes, making Fronteo the first company in Japan to conduct clinical trials of AI analysing conversation. They have said that they hope the program will help to alleviate stress on both doctors and patients, and make the process of early diagnosis of dementia must smoother.