My fascination with Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues, and this week I found two new medical uses of AI that are pretty interesting. Digital Trends reported on two exciting developments: smart stethoscopes and smart toilet seats. In the first example, researchers at Johns Hopkins and the startup Sonavi Labs are developing an updated stethoscope, a piece of equipment that hasn’t changed much over the years. Sonavi reports that they “re-engineered the classic stethoscope by adding active noise cancellation to dramatically enhance sound fidelity, and on-device algorithms that automatically detect lung sound abnormalities.”
The theory is that the device can actually “hear” using smart technology to identify symptoms of pneumonia, using both the noise cancelling technology to eliminate outside noise, and machine learning technology to distinguish between those patients with pneumonia from those without.
The second innovation is a smart toilet seat. No kidding. All someone has to do is sit on it and it’s like having an EKG to monitor a patient’s health.
So what are the legal implications of such technology? Is the “machine” making the diagnosis? What if the “machine” uses bad data or erroneous algorithms that lead to an incorrect conclusion? How would my legal colleagues in the medical malpractice bar on both sides deal with complications from machine learning technology that not only assists a medical professional in making a diagnosis, but also sends data that a medical provider relies on to make the diagnosis. Using algorithms and machine learning in the medical field will no doubt increase, and we need to be ready to understand the legal implications of the challenges these advances will present while still using that technology to help patients and medical professionals.