Skip to content

Can AI Diagnose Your Migraine?

Artificial intelligence could redefine the next decade of medicine, particularly in diagnostic tools for headache and migraine. But patient care is paramount, and policymakers should prioritize physician involvement and oversight. 

AI in Health Care 

The complexities of the modern health system offer many opportunities for AI. That could include streamlining office and paperwork operations, reducing the administrative burden, and improving patient monitoring. AI models trained to analyze patient responses and images are even beginning to increase diagnostic accuracy for headache and migraine among providers who are not headache specialists.  

Danielle Kellier, an MD-PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania, has been working on an AI tool to improve access to headache and migraine treatments, according to Neurology Today. Treatment disparities in emergency rooms, including longer wait times and more difficulty accessing care for non-white patients, are one place where algorithms might help. Kellier’s model could also scan reams of clinical notes to understand why a diagnosis was missed, or what features underdiagnosed patients share.  

Potential Drawbacks 

Using AI in health care also presents risks. 

Scholars and providers warn, for example, that training AI models on historical data – as with Danielle Kellier’s tool – could perpetuate shortcomings rather than alleviate them.  

Meanwhile, in situations where AI models are trained for diagnostic accuracy, it’s not always clear why they perform the way they do. Headache researcher Mia Minen pointed out that AI models might function reliably only at the facilities where they are trained and tested, or might be sorting patient data in ways that don’t promote ethical outcomes. Inappropriately weighting criteria could result in risky treatments or inaccurate diagnoses.   

And across the board, providers are expressing concern about AI-powered diagnostic tools that meet standard FDA approval but are otherwise largely unregulated

Oversight for AI 

The FDA is working to develop a regulatory framework that’s agile enough to accommodate medical AI innovation but still protects patients.  

Regulators should be fielding insights from experts, especially health care providers. Patient advocates should also be mindful of these ongoing discussions, as the use of AI in diagnostic medicine will only increase with time.  

For now, headache and migraine are among the most promising areas for AI in patient diagnostics, with some online tools performing similarly to structured clinical interviews. These technologies can recast the future of diagnostic medicine for all kinds of ailments, but only if they are developed and implemented with caution and commonsense regulation. 

Related Articles