Bertalan Mesko, MD, PhD is a medical futurist who envisions the next trends for companies and governments in order to make sure a mutually positive relation between the human touch and innovative technologies will rule the future of healthcare. He is an international speaker, consultant, geek physician with PhD in genomics, and founder of Webicina.com. He is the author of the recent book, “The Guide to the Future of Medicine”.
I was watching the movie Her for the second time and I was fascinated again about the scene in which the main character played by Joaquin Phoenix got his new operating system with artificial intelligence (AI) and started working with that. I couldn’t stop thinking about the ways I could use such an AI system in my life and how it actually could make me a better doctor.
Don’t get me wrong, I think empathy and great communication with patients can make a doctor better, but as the amount of medical information is exponentially growing; as the time for dealing with patients and information is getting less, it is becoming humanly impossible to keep up. If I could devote the time it takes now to deal with technology (inputting information, looking for papers, etc.) to patients, that would be a huge step towards becoming better.
Here are 10 ways AI could make me a better doctor and consequently live a better life.
1) Eradicate waiting time: Not only do patients have long wait times for their doctors, but doctors lose a lot of time everyday waiting for something (patients, lab results, etc.). An AI system that makes my schedule as efficient as possible directing me to the next logical task would be a jackpot.
2) Prioritize my emails: I deal with about 200 e-mails every single day. I try to teach Gmail how to mark an e-mail important or categorize them automatically into social media messages, newsletters and personal e-mails, it’s still a challenge. In Her, the AI system prioritized all the 3000 unread e-mails in a second.
3) Find me the information I need: I think I have mastered the skill of searching for information online using Google and different kinds of search engines for different tasks; however, it still takes time. What if an AI OS could answer my questions immediately by looking up the answer online?
4) Keep me up-to-date: There are 23 million papers on Pubmed.com. If I could read 3-4 papers of my field of interest per week, I couldn’t finish in a lifetime and meanwhile millions of new studies would come out. I need an AI to show me what I should really read that day. Now my curated social media networks do this job, although I’m sure it would be much more accurate with AI.
5) Work when I don’t: I can fulfil my online tasks (e-mails, reading papers, searching for information) when I use my PC or laptop, and I can do most of these on my smartphone. When I don’t use any of these, I obviously cannot work. An AI system could work on these when I don’t have any device in hand.
6) Help me make hard decisions rational: A doctor faces a series of critical decisions every day. The best we can do is to make those decisions as informed as possible. Some of them are still hard to make. I can ask people of whom I value their opinions and that’s it. Imagine discussing these with an AI system that is even more rational than you are.
7) Help patients with urgent matters reach me: A doctor has a lot of calls, in-person questions, e-mails and even messages from social media channels on a daily basis. In this noise of information, not every urgent matter can reach you. What if an AI OS could select the crucial ones out of the mess and direct your attention to it when it’s actually needed.
9) Help me collaborate more: In Her, the AI collected the letters the main character wrote and compiled them into one manuscript which she sent to a publisher that she thought would be willing to publish it. Similarly an AI could find the most potential collaborators and invite them to work on a paper or study I otherwise work on. This way, opening up my networks even more.
10) Do administrative work: A strong percentage of an average doctor’s day is spent with administrative stuff. An AI could learn how to do it properly and do it better than me by time. It could write down my thoughts and compile them anytime just as if I decided to sit down and write them down saving me an enormous amount of time.
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