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Dispelling the Top 5 Myths Surrounding Medical AI: Unmasking the Truth About this Revolutionary Technology


In 2015, a small research team at Google brainstormed how AI could help improve people’s health. We met doctors like Dr. Kim Ramasamy at Aravind Eye Hospital, who had a lifelong vision of improving access to eyesight-saving patient care. There are not enough specialists in many parts of the world, and having an AI-powered screening system could help doctors reach more patients. We set out to explore whether we could train AI to identify diabetic retinopathy (DR), a leading and growing cause of preventable blindness, and in 2016, we built an AI model that performed on par with eyecare doctors.

In 2018, our partner team at Verily received CE mark for this tool, Automated Retinal Disease Assessment (ARDA). As the prevalence of diabetes rises in low- and middle-income countries, we felt it was most critical to assist with the rising demand and the first patient was screened with ARDA in Madurai, India.

Today, ARDA has screened over 200,000 patients in clinics around the world, from urban cities in the EU to rural communities in India. However, the path to bringing medical AI into a real clinical environment was not easy. To help others who may be embarking on a similar journey, we are sharing our key lessons learned in an article published in Nature Medicine.

Below are 5 key lessons we learned from our work:

Graphic for myth 1

Myth: The more data, the better

Reality: While data volume is important in developing an accurate AI model, data quality matters more. Training data should represent data diversity in the real world (e.g., patient demography, data quality reflecting real conditions, etc.) and having experts adjudicate tough cases will improve labeling quality.

Graphic for myth 2

Myth: AI experts are all you need

Reality: Building a well-functioning medical AI system takes a village of multidisciplinary teams including clinicians, designers, human computer interaction researchers, regulatory, ethical, legal experts, and more.

graphic for myth 3

Myth: High AI performance equals clinical confidence

Reality: Validating the performance of AI in a controlled setting does not guarantee the same level of performance when it’s rolled out to real clinics. Careful validations in real-world environments are necessary to ensure AI’s robust performance and model generalizability.

Graphic for myth 4

Myth: It’s easy to fit AI into existing workflows

Reality: We need to design AI around humans, not the other way around. Sometimes the best AI use cases may be different than the original assumptions. We’ve also observed that adding AI into a workflow sometimes prompted unanticipated adjustments in the overall clinical processes, such as optimization in patient education and patient scheduling

graphic for myth 5

The prior expectations (“myths”) and learnings (“reality”) of developing and deploying medical AI

Myth: Launch means success

Reality: Patient population or environmental factors may change after the initial launch. These factors can affect AI’s performance unexpectedly. Implementing a system to proactively monitor AI’s performance can help detect potential issues early.

Research in medical AI model development has increased exponentially in recent years. However, research on how to deploy medical AI is often overlooked. While many aspects, such as regulations for medical AI deployment and monitoring are still evolving in many parts of the world, we hope these learnings can help to facilitate discussions around ensuring that medical AI is deployed safely and effectively to benefit patients.

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Monte OZ
Monte OZ is a highly accomplished and respected international freelance journalist, travel and active adventure reporter, and leading entertainment & lifestyle blogger based in Africa. With a passion for storytelling, a sense of adventure, and an eye for all things captivating, Monte has become a prominent figure in the world of travel, entertainment, and lifestyle journalism. Born and raised in Africa, Monte developed a deep appreciation for the continent's diverse cultures, rich heritage, and vibrant entertainment scene. His upbringing fueled his desire to share Africa's untold stories and showcase its dynamic lifestyle to a global audience. Monte's extensive experience and expertise have made him a sought-after authority on all things related to travel, adventure, entertainment, and lifestyle in Africa. As an international freelance journalist, Monte has made significant contributions to various prestigious publications worldwide. His captivating articles, insightful interviews, and engaging features have graced the pages of leading entertainment magazines, lifestyle publications, and reputable news outlets. Monte's unique ability to capture the essence of Africa's entertainment and lifestyle scene has garnered widespread acclaim and recognition. With a love for exploration and a thirst for adrenaline, Monte also thrives as an active adventure reporter. He has embarked on daring expeditions, immersing himself in Africa's wild landscapes, and documenting his adrenaline-pumping experiences. Whether it's conquering treacherous peaks, exploring remote jungles, or engaging in heart-pounding activities, Monte's adventurous spirit and daring escapades inspire readers to embrace their own sense of adventure. In addition to his work in journalism and adventure reporting, Monte is a leading entertainment & lifestyle blogger in Africa. Through his influential blog, he offers readers an insider's view of the continent's vibrant entertainment scene, trendy hotspots, fashion trends, culinary delights, and cultural experiences. Monte's unique blend of storytelling, personal insights, and expert recommendations has made his blog a go-to resource for entertainment and lifestyle enthusiasts seeking the pulse of Africa's dynamic culture. Beyond his professional pursuits, Monte is a passionate advocate for promoting Africa's talent, creativity, and cultural diversity. He actively supports and champions emerging artists, musicians, designers, and entrepreneurs, helping to showcase their work to a broader audience. Monte's dedication to promoting Africa's vibrant entertainment and lifestyle industry has positioned him as a respected influencer and tastemaker within the African and global entertainment communities. With a commitment to excellence, a passion for exploration, and a talent for captivating storytelling, Monte Oz continues to captivate audiences worldwide. As an international freelance journalist, travel and active adventure reporter, and leading entertainment & lifestyle blogger, his work has left an indelible mark on the world of journalism, travel, and entertainment, solidifying his position as a trusted authority and go-to resource for all things related to African travel, adventure, and lifestyle.