Artificial Intelligence is poised to revolutionize many industries, but none as radically as healthcare. From diagnosis to treatment to your relationship with your doctor, AI has the potential to improve patient outcomes. But like all technologies, it could also eliminate the human elements so crucial to medical care – elements like empathy, intuition and lived experience.
AI has the ability to process vast amounts of medical data, seemingly in the blink of an eye. This means that algorithms can analyze patient data, identify patterns, and provide diagnoses much faster than human physicians. This has the potential to save lives, especially in cases where time is of the essence, such as in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers.
By analyzing medical history and providing personalized treatment recommendations, AI can help doctors make better informed decisions about patient care. This can result in better outcomes for patients and can also reduce the likelihood of medical errors.
Chatbots in Medicine?
Under the right circumstances, AI could also improve patient engagement and education. Chatbots and virtual assistants could be used to provide patients with personalized information about their conditions, treatments, and medications. This could help patients better understand their conditions and encourage them to take an active role in their own care.
But the integration of AI into healthcare is not without major challenges. One of those is that an AI algorithm’s output is only as accurate as its input. If a patient’s medical history is incomplete or in error, the diagnosis and treatment could go badly off the rails. And as AI puts still more pressure on physicians to keep up, inputs could be further compromised.
Writing in USA Today, Dr. Marc Siegel noted, “Consider that AI, when applied to clinical medicine, can give you only general answers. It cannot know the nuances of your case or history.” He added, “AI will always lack my clinical judgment formed from years of experience, not to mention my empathy for my patients. Increasingly, AI threatens that.
Profits vs. Patients
In a healthcare industry dominated by cutting costs and maximizing profits, there will be competitive
pressures to replace human physicians with AI. If you doubt it, you need only look at complex surgeries now being performed by robots. While AI almost certainly will improve efficiencies, it’s far less certain it will result in improved patient care. Patients need to be able to interact with and receive care from human physicians who can provide empathy, emotional support, and personalized care.
Patient privacy is also a big concern when it comes to AI medical care. Patients are extremely sensitive about their medical histories falling into the wrong hands. AI algorithms must be designed with bulletproof privacy protections and healthcare organizations must have robust accountability measures in place to protect patient data.
The AI genie is out of the bottle. It holds the promise of improved medical care and patient outcomes. But it also comes with huge and unprecedented challenges. As healthcare and health insurance organizations adopt these new technologies, it will be critical for patient care and health outcomes to take precedence over cold efficiencies and shareholder profits.