Medical Dialogue Generation via Intuitive-then-Analytical Differential Diagnosis

12 Jan 2024  ·  Kaishuai Xu, Wenjun Hou, Yi Cheng, Jian Wang, Wenjie Li ·

Medical dialogue systems have attracted growing research attention as they have the potential to provide rapid diagnoses, treatment plans, and health consultations. In medical dialogues, a proper diagnosis is crucial as it establishes the foundation for future consultations. Clinicians typically employ both intuitive and analytic reasoning to formulate a differential diagnosis. This reasoning process hypothesizes and verifies a variety of possible diseases and strives to generate a comprehensive and rigorous diagnosis. However, recent studies on medical dialogue generation have overlooked the significance of modeling a differential diagnosis, which hinders the practical application of these systems. To address the above issue, we propose a medical dialogue generation framework with the Intuitive-then-Analytic Differential Diagnosis (IADDx). Our method starts with a differential diagnosis via retrieval-based intuitive association and subsequently refines it through a graph-enhanced analytic procedure. The resulting differential diagnosis is then used to retrieve medical knowledge and guide response generation. Experimental results on two datasets validate the efficacy of our method. Besides, we demonstrate how our framework assists both clinicians and patients in understanding the diagnostic process, for instance, by producing intermediate results and graph-based diagnosis paths.

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