Artificial Intelligence and the impact on Physicians’ roles

The healthcare Artificial Intelligence (AI) market is estimated to reach $34 billion worldwide by 2025 and this pace is creating both fear and excitement in many. While some argue that AI may render physicians’ jobs obsolete, many believe that it will only be an asset to the industry – Artificial Intelligence will never replace doctors, but rather will serve as a tool to help them achieve greater and better results.

The adoption of AI up until now has been with a view to achieve two aims: to improve clinical practice:

  • using AI to help doctors and other medical personnel with their diagnoses, or to improve administration and support
  • using AI to streamline office management and resource allocation.

The partnership between AI and humans in the healthcare industry will however, only become more mainstream, as more physicians learn and adopt the technologies utilizing artificial intelligence.

AI could help diagnose and treat diseases. It can gather and serve up loads of data in clearly and concisely, cutting down on the imprecise judgments that doctors could make because of the pressures and complexity of their practices.

For physicians, AI presents an opportunity. With its implementation, it could let them know patients better, learn how a disease affects people, and give themselves more time to learn and adapt for better outcomes. For example, AI could help to manage asthma flares: for many patients, asthma gets worse as air pollution levels rise; AI could let the physicians take environmental information quickly and respond accordingly without delay for all patients. Potassium in the blood can be determined on our time watches without any blood collection itself. The retina can be better analysed with higher accuracy. The list goes on and on… Thus, the transformative potential of AI is in its power to enhance the human aspect of medicine, which is something disappearing fast from conventional practices. AI can see things that humans cannot. Deep learning trains these machines to see things furthermore and better than what human eyes will see.

Progresses in the capability to predict diseases earlier thanks to AI will be key in how physicians practice medicine in the coming years. With the influx of health data, there is too much clinical information for physicians to keep track of, and the AI data management and analysis can help with it. Having said that, it is also imperative to know that there is no substitute for the patient-physician relationship, as all doctors agree. “The convergence of human intelligence and artificial intelligence will make us better doctors, but they will not replace the fundamental importance of the doctor and patient interaction,” says Dr. George Daley, Dean of Harvard Medical School. The role of the empathetic physician is going to be fundamentally changed.

AI has great potential in transforming the way physicians deliver high-quality, cost-effective, diagnostic and treatment services. In order to achieve major optimistic impacts, there must be more education and resources detailing the positive influence AI yields at the patient and physician levels. Additionally, the necessary infrastructure must be in place to maximize the impact on health care in general.

References

  1. AI is Changing the Role of the Physician, March 2019, InsideDigitalHealth
  2. How artificial intelligence will shape the physician toolkit in 2019, January 2019, MedCityNews
  3. AI can’t replace doctors. But it can make them better.  October 2018, MIT Technology Review