Google Developing Prescription-Reading AI

Google Developing Prescription-Reading AI: Google has suggested an alternative to the traditional sick note. The project was announced at the annual Google for India conference on Monday and detailed on the company website. It aims to use artificial intelligence to read handwritten medical prescriptions.

The function will be available as an option in Google Lens. The lens can already analyze, copy, and paste handwriting from real life into your phone or computer. Its Search features will automatically provide more context and information based on that text.

Similar functionality might be expected from the prescription decoding program now under development. When a user snaps or uploads a photo of their doctor’s note, the Lens app will analyze it for substances mentioned in the document and provide relevant information.

A tiny step for Google Lens, which “technically” should have been able to read doctors’ scripts like any other text the whole time. The long hours of work each day leave their mark on doctors’ hands, making handwriting worse than the average person’s.

Google Developing Prescription-Reading AI
Google Developing Prescription-Reading AI

Additionally, doctors have a special shorthand that they use. What’s more, the stakes are far higher when digitizing a prescription than when typing out a handwritten grocery list. There have been countless headaches and worse due to poorly written medications.

When pharmacists make assumptions about what illegible handwriting means, it might lead to drug errors. Unfortunately, many prescriptions are flawed because vital patient data is missing. Scrawled medical orders are a well-known (and often-joked-about) problem; this is not the first time technology has attempted to solve the problem.

Pharmacy chains in the United States began testing electronic prescriptions (e-scripts) at the turn of the millennium, eliminating the need for doctors to write prescriptions by hand. The use of electronic drugs has also grown commonplace.

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According to research by MD Toolbox, all but ten states have some law in place or planned that requires medical providers to use electronic prescriptions. In places like New York, for example, violators face fines or even jail time if they are found to have disregarded the law.

In addition, the federal government requires physicians who regularly prescribe banned medications to Medicare patients to use electronic prescriptions rather than handwritten ones. However, handwritten orders are still widely used in the United States and serve as the primary prescription in much of the world.

India is where Google is testing the functionality, although there are several obstacles to medical digitization. Google has positioned the future product as most beneficial to pharmacists and suggested that pharmacist input will be essential to developing and training the new technology.

In a video, a firm executive explains how one pharmacist extracted the most important information from a doctor’s note. However, medical practitioners should wait until the technology is refined before adopting it.

“While the initial results have been gratifying, much work remains to be done before this system is ready for the real world,” said Manish Gupta, research director at Google India, in the presentation. The company also insists that the prescription function isn’t meant to be used in place of human understanding.

The business told Tech Crunch, “No decision will be made entirely based on the output provided by this technology.” The software will help humans, like pharmacists, digitize handwritten medical documentation.

There is no word yet on whether or not Google aims to roll out its prescription reading technology outside of India. The firm did not immediately answer Gizmodo’s concerns about the program or timeframe.

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