Our healthcare system and the promise of AI

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Our healthcare system and the promise of AI

Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human… by Eric Topol, Basic Books, US $32.00, Pp 400, March 2019, ISBN 978-1541644632

Our healthcare system has become dysfunctional. There is a disconnect between the doctor and patient while misdiagnoses are playing havoc with public health. In Deep Medicine, Dr. Eric Topol tells us that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is empowering doctors and revolutionizing healthcare system. AI is changing how doctors work and treat their patients. He says that AI is transforming everything doctors do from taking notes and diagnose the disease. This will not only provide better medical care to patients but also cut costs.

AI has been slowly sneaking into our lives. It is already pervasive in our daily experiences, ranging from autocomplete when we type, to unsolicited recommendations based on Google searches, to music suggestions based on our listening history. Its roots date back eighty years and its name was coined in the 1950s. Dr. Eric Topol says that AI’s potential impact in healthcare garnered notice recently. The promise of AI in medicine is to provide complete, panoramic views of individuals’ medical data; to improve decision-making; to avoid errors such as misdiagnosis and unnecessary procedures; to help in the ordering and interpretation of appropriate tests, and to recommend treatment. Underlying all of this is data.

Dr. Eric Topol says that the AI subtype of deep learning has gained extraordinary momentum since 2012 when a now-classic paper was published on image recognition. However, Eric Topol does not believe that deep learning AI is going to fix all the ailments of modern healthcare. He says that deep examples are narrow: the depression predictor cannot do dermatology. These neural network algorithms depend on recognizing patterns, which is well-suited for certain types of doctors who heavily depend on images, like radiologists looking at scans or pathologists reviewing slides, which he calls “doctors with patterns.” To a lesser but still significant extent, all clinicians have some patterned tasks in their daily mix that will potentially be subject to AL algorithmic support.

Dr. Eric Topol says that we’re early in the AI medicine era. It’s not a routine medical practice, and some call it “Silicon Valley-dation.” Such dismissive attitudes are common in medicine, making a change in the field glacial. The result here is that although most sectors of the world are well into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is centered on the use of AI, medicine is still stuck in the early phase of the third, which saw the first widespread use of computers and electronics.

What’s wrong in healthcare today is that it’s missing care. Dr. Eric Topol, as doctors, we don’t get to the real care. And patients don’t feel they are cared for. The greatest opportunity offered by AI is not reducing errors or workloads, or even curing cancer: it is the opportunity to restore the precious and time-honored connection and trust — the human touch — between patients and doctors. Not only would we have more time to come together, enabling far deeper communication and compassion, but also we would be able to revamp how we select and train doctors. The rise of machines will heighten the diagnostic skills and the fund of medical knowledge available to all clinicians. Eventually, doctors will adopt AI and algorithms as their work patterns. This leveling of the medical knowledge landscape will ultimately lead to a new premium: to find and train doctors who have the highest emotional intelligence.

Deep Medicine is a seminal work on how AI is changing the healthcare system for the better. It makes a very powerful case in favor of accelerating the introduction of AI in the healthcare system. Dr. Eric gives hope to those who have lost hope about our healthcare system. He tells us how AI will help doctors to take better care of their patients as they will save time and reduce the ratio of misdiagnoses. He also thinks that AI will also bring medical costs down and affordable. It is a must-read for both students and experts of public health and all medical providers as well as of AI. It will change the way you think of healthcare — and AI.

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