Could technology replace our doctors?

 

New technologies are empowering patients to easily manage their healthcare more and more each year, and doctors are beginning to adopt new tools to communicate with patients more efficiently and coordinate care with data from a variety of sources.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is continuously evolving and is becoming adept at performing clinical tasks, such as disease diagnosis and cancer screening, faster and more accurately than humans. As the algorithms improve, so will tools for technology-enabled care.

The question is – will AI shift from assisting physicians to replacing them?

In 2016, the New England Journal of Medicine predicted big data, combined with powerful algorithms, would transform the medical field. It also stated machine learning and AI will disrupt medicine by:

  • Improving the ability of health professionals to establish a prognosis
  • Displacing much of the work of radiologists and anatomical pathologists.
  • Improving diagnostic accuracy

The ability of AI to convert data into knowledge will soon enable people to screen themselves. A team at Stanford University developed an algorithm to diagnose skin cancer, using a database of about 130,000 skin lesion images from 2,000 different diseases. The team is working on moving the algorithm to mobile devices, making accurate cancer diagnoses available to patients outside a doctor’s office.

As algorithms continue to improve, medical professionals will adopt more AI technology to assist with diagnosis and treatment.

Elliott Fishman, MD, professor of radiology and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, believes machine learning will lead to improved patient care. “If you ask me who will benefit from AI, it’s the patients,” says Fishman. “That’s why I’m so excited. Better care for our patients. What can be better than that?”