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Patients can tell the truth to Ellie


Statue of Pinocchio, a symbol of untruthfulness, in Pescia, Italy.

University of Southern California scientists have created “Ellie,” a virtual human meant to make patients more comfortable in talking about themselves to give their physicians and better information about themselves s0 they can make better diagnoses.

The Washington Post says Ellie “was born of two lines of findings: that anonymity can help people be more truthful and that rapport with a trained caregiver fosters deep disclosure. In some cases, research has shown, the less human involvement, the better. In a 2014 study of 239 people, participants who were told that Ellie was operating automatically as opposed to being controlled by a person nearby, said they felt less fearful about self-disclosure, better able to express sadness and more willing to disclose.”

But will the likes of Ellie mean fewer jobs for real clinicians?

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