Baidu, Inc., China’s leading search engine, on Tuesday introduced Melody, an AI-powered conversational bot the company says helps doctors gather information and respond to patients about their medical conditions.
Melody incorporates advanced deep learning and natural language processing (NLP) technologies developed by Baidu. It integrates with Baidu Doctor, an app that Baidu launched in China in 2015. The Baidu Doctor app allows patients to ask doctors direct questions, book appointments online and search for healthcare-related information, said Baidu.
According to the company, Melody is designed to save time in online discussions between doctors and patients, and provide relevant, contextual information to doctors to assist with recommendations and treatment options.
“The new AI-based medical assistant functionality in Baidu Doctor will increase doctor productivity and enable patients to get quicker answers to their health-related questions,” said Zheng Li, general manager of Baidu’s Medical Services Business Unit. “Melody uses deep learning to understand a patient’s initial query and select additional questions to send to the patient. We expect to see AI used in many different ways throughout the medical industry as AI capabilities continue to improve.”
Baidu Explains How Melody Works
When a patient opens the Baidu Doctor app to pose a question, Melody asks the patient additional context-relevant questions to clarify information such as the duration, severity and frequency of symptoms. It can also ask about additional symptoms possibly related to the condition but not initially mentioned by the patient. This provides the doctor with a more complete picture with which to make an informed decision (such as whether to recommend an immediate appointment). Melody can suggest possible treatment options directly to the doctor, who can choose to communicate those options to the patient or develop his or her own recommendations.