Turing Triage

Meredith wakes up with a cough for the sixth day in a row. What she hoped was simply a cold has lingered and kept her away from the office for almost a week. She decides she’s had enough and ventures to the local community triage.

The triage is quite small; it employs one person to welcome patients, maintain the equipment, and troubleshoot potential diagnostics. The employee ushers Meredith towards the Digital Examination Centre (DEC) where she scans her embedded ID chip on the way in and enters alone.

Inside the cozy room is a large touchscreen reading “Welcome Meredith” and a series of nearly invisible drawers hidden into the wall. A voice comes through the DEC speakers and asks Meredith to describe her symptoms. Picking up on keywords such as “throat” “congestion” and “cough” the DEC narrows its focus to a handful of potential respiratory and sinusoidal ailments. The DEC asks Meredith if she’s comfortable placing her finger in a small cylinder to her right so that an IR and sonar-based system can non-invasively scan the makeup and contents of her blood.

Analyzing her blood, DEC is able to quickly rule out bronchitis and a variety of cold and flu viruses. Asking a few more questions about her cough and taking into account a contaminant analysis of the spring air, the DEC estimates an 82% likelihood that her cough is allergen-based, a 16% chance of a bacterial infection such as strep throat that the DEC is not qualified to detect, and other trace possibilities.

DEC asks permission to access Meredith’s calendar and books her an appointment with a local allergist for further testing.


  • What barriers do you see to the development of such a system?
  • How will healthcare professionals of the future collaborate with a DEC?
  • What are the risks of this kind of increasing digitization in health delivery?