Healthcare already has its hands full with rapid shifts in the status quo, but an even more dramatic change could be on the way: robotic doctors powered by artificial intelligence or AI.
What sounds like science fiction is already poised to take other industries by storm in the form of innovations such as self-driving cars, according to The Conversation. Patients will likely be apprehensive; after all, even advanced technology is far from foolproof. But like self-driving cars, medical robots don't have to be 100 percent reliable--they just need to be more reliable than humans, the article notes.
Healthcare has made strides in adopting intelligent technology, from robots that conduct rounds and collect patient data to decision-support tools such as IBM's Watson to robotic surgery tools such as da Vinci.
Moreover, there is precedent for the industry adopting radical new approaches that work for other industries: Hospitals that adopted the automotive industry's "lean manufacturing" techniques have significantly improved wait times, costs and outcomes.
Increased use of AI in healthcare would improve both decision-making and clinicians' ability to determine the best possible course of action, but the goal of such advances would not be to replace human caregivers, medical futurist Bertalan Meskó, M.D., Ph.D., and Herbert Chase, M.D., of Columbia University, told Mobile Health Global.
"It doesn't matter how intelligent machines become, doctors will always need to be in between the machine and the patient, to try to tailor the recommendations that we're getting," Chase said.
Rather, the real benefit of such advances will be the extra time, energy and attention they give human clinicians to respond to the patient's needs the way only a human can, rather than focusing on gathering clinical information, according to the article.