E-psychiatrist for quick diagnosis of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia Update, October 2003

This system described below sounds like something that could be valuable in a lot of doctor's offices, mental health support group offices, and public assistance offices - I hope it gets properly funded and developed - Editor.

Jennifer Foreshew
SEPTEMBER 16, 2003

DOCTORS will be able to screen for, and monitor, mental health disorders, including schizophrenia and dementia, with a system created at Queensland University, Australia.

Developed over the past 18 months by the university's Centre for Online Health, the system, known as Ex-Ray, uses speech and text to diagnose patients. Work is under way on adding imaging to the system.

Professor Joachim Diederich and Professor Peter Yellowlees say Ex-Ray will provide a tool as capable as an expert psychiatrist. "We not trying to pretend this is better than the psychiatrist, but we are suggesting it may be better than many primary care clinicians."

Professor Yellowlees, professor of psychiatry and director of the Centre for Online Health, said the PC-based test required a two to five minute descriptive speech and/or image sample from the patient.

The data was then analysed and classified to provide immediate analysis to assist diagnosis.

"When people with schizophrenia speak, it is not uncommon for them to be difficult to understand," Professor Yellowlees said.

"To the layperson their speech can be odd, unusual or a bit confusing."

The same was true with depression, he said. People tended to speak in a way that was "classically sad".

Ex-Ray combines a number of search engines, essentially, that are used for neural networks and other machine learning approaches.

It uses algorithms to come up with a cluster of words that are identified in particular illnesses.

In three trials, Ex-Ray delivered about 80 per cent accuracy as a screening test for both schizophrenia and depression.

The team is seeking extra funds to extend the trials.

Professor Yellowlees estimated the global market for the tool could be $2 billion annually, including the US.

The system may assist in diagnosis, screening and monitoring of a range of disorders that affect up to 16 per cent of the population, such as depression, schizophrenia, mania, dementia, delirium, drug psychoses, stroke, ataxia and a number of neurological disorders such as Parkinson's Disease.

Ex-Ray, a project of Uniquest, the university's commercial arm, recently won an award in the e-health category of the government and corporate sponsored Secrets of IT Innovation Competition 2003.

Professor Yellowlees said the team had about six months of preliminary experiments, at a cost of $300,000, to complete, and another two years of detailed commercial development at $2 million.

"If we got substantial funding tomorrow we could get this going fairly quickly," he said.


Source: Australian IT News,7204,7276476%5E15345%5E%5Enbv%5E15306-15316,00.htm




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