Doctor House is going electronic.
Medics charged with diagnosing the kind of extremely rare diseases that Hugh Laurie’s consultant routinely spots in TV drama House have found that artificial intelligence can do a similar job – but in seconds rather than days or weeks.
From December doctors at the University Hospital of Marburg’s Centre for Undiagnosed and Rare Diseases (known as ZusE in German) will start using IBM’s Watson to speed up their diagnoses.
In 2011 Watson famously won the gameshow Jeopardy! after being trained on 200 million pages of general knowledge data.
Doctors are now training it on peer-reviewed rare disease literature to help them spot unusual illnesses.
In House life-saving diagnostic decisions are often based on a deep probing of patients’ backgrounds.
The show’s scripts are informed by authentic medical literature and endocrinologist Jürgen Schäfer at ZusE says he once diagnosed one of his own patient’s debilitating fever – related to cobalt contamination from hip implants – after watching an episode of the show.