Google may one day help you read handwritten prescriptions

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Google’s computer algorithms and AI wizardry are amazing, but the company is looking to do the impossible. The company is developing a prototype machine-learning model that may one day decipher doctors’ handwritten prescriptions.

Prescriptions from our doctors are some of the most important pieces of paper we will ever be handed. That being said, it can sometimes be difficult to understand what’s written on them. That’s not only inconvenient, but it’s rather dangerous for obvious reasons.

If we’re talking about quantities of medications, it’s extremely important to be able to understand what the doctor wrote down. When it comes to handwriting, it can sometimes be hard to differentiate between a “1” and a “7”, a “4” and a “9”, and so on.


Google may one day decipher handwritten prescriptions

In the interest of saving lives and flexing its artificial intelligence prowess, Google India has been developing a research prototype of a machine learning model. This is all in the hopes of being able to read and sloppily-written prescriptions. Now, you’ll want to take this with a grain of salt, as the company is only working on a prototype. It’s not to say that it’s working on a user-facing product.

The Google India Twitter account posted a tweet saying that we “started working on the complex process of identifying what’s written on medical prescriptions…” under that, we see the #Googleforindia hashtag. Other than that, it didn’t give much more information on this venture.

In any case, it’d be interesting to see where the company plans on taking this technology. We’ll keep you up to date on any new developments about this technology.


How this feature would work?

With the tweet, Google gave us a short video showcasing what this capability could look like as a final product. We don’t know if Google wants this to be a separate product implemented into an app. The user will access the interface and import a picture of the prescription.

Then, Google will work this magic and point out the words that it understands. It will search for specific pharmaceutical terms and medications and decipher them. It will then give you multiple suggestions as to what it thinks the slip says. That’s much better than giving only one option. From that point, you will know what the term stands for, and be able to present it to your pharmacist.