Medicine - whether it's practiced on the streets or within the walls of a health system - should always be patient centric. The art and practice of patient-centered medicine treats patients (including their family and friends) with the utmost respect for their belief systems, preferences, and ability to be fully informed, while evaluating and treating them based on the best applicable science for their particular symptoms and illness.
So, I ask, should a patient's values guide all clinical decisions? This topic could be a slippery slope and brings medical ethics into the forefront. Where does artificial intelligence (AI) come into play? Who wins -- man or machine? Is there a potential compromise available where both come work synergistically on behalf of patients?
Healthcare has changed and it is currently changing..... it's a constant evolution. During the pandemic and even still, late into 2023, many folks have essentially given up on healthcare -- or at least trust the industry a little less than they did 4 years ago. If we stop to reflect, we are at an interesting crossroads because while trust in "the system" has steadily declined, we are simultaneously watching the burden of chronic diseases rise across the world. Maybe AI can help:
Big data and machines learning exist across many facets of our everyday lives. For example, complete a simple Google search on your favorite shoe brand and within days banner ads related to your search begin showing up everywhere. You may even make a marketing assist purchase that day. Consumer insights at its finest. AI certainly had a part in that consumer action, and many argue that AI also has a distinct place in this new age of healthcare. Overall, there appears to be great optimism that the application of artificial intelligence can provide substantial improvements in all areas of healthcare from diagnostics to treatment. It is generally believed that AI tools will facilitate and enhance human work and most importantly, not replace the work of physicians and other healthcare staff as such.
With all things new and old, we must evaluate the pros and cons of anything destined to impact an entire world. I've provided a short, non-exhaustive list below as it applies to not only medicine, but other industries as well.
Reduction in human error (decisions can be made by a certain set of algorithms)
It promotes Accelerated Innovation
Unbiased Decision Making
A Plethora of Medical Applications (analyze a very large amount of data -- FAST
Could save time and $$$ related to administrative related tasks
Could reduce the global burden known as physician burnout - another epidemic!
High costs can be a barrier to entry into this space
It is Emotionless (no empathy)
Can rely too heavily on data and thus forget about the human being
Vulnerable to hacks, security risks, and potential data breaches
May not integrate well with physician workflows or EMR systems (EPIC, Cerner)
Don't forget - automation even as powerful as this still needs HUMAN surveillance
Even with its limitations -- I do believe AI is here to stay -- we are all beneficiaries of its power whether we know it or not.
September 18, 2023
Author: Joshua Ishmael, MBA, MLS(ASCP)CM, NRP
Pass with PASS, LLC.