The question of “whether Technology will replace physicians in the near future” was posed to me last week during a commercial discussion and I thought I’ll share my perspective with you folks.
Truth be told, it was not the first time I was asked this question (or its multiple variants – Clinical Decision Support, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data & Analytics, Machine Learning and of course, IBM Watson. For the uninitiated, the various concepts / technology mentioned are actually inter-related).
To illustrate my perspective, I will quote a scene from the movie “Hidden Figures” (a 2016 American biographical drama film on African American female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Space Race.)
No worries if you have not watched the movie. Basically, John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit the earth did not trust the trajectory and entry points calculations provided by the newly-installed IBM 7090s and insisted that Katherine Johnson (the movie’s protagonist) check and confirm the numbers. If Katherine had determined the calculations provided by the IBM 7090s to be inaccurate, then the mission (to orbit the earth) would be aborted.
That was 1962. I would imagine that the scenario to be somewhat reversed in today’s context where we would insist that any calculations performed by humans be verified by computers.
So where is the part where I proclaim that “Technology replaced Humans”? I didn’t.
The main reason why people post the question of “whether technology will replace physicians in the near future” (and its various variant) is because they;
- Do not truly understand how Healthcare is different from other industry
- Think that Health Informatics is the same as Health IT / Digital Health / HealthTech
So why won’t technology replace physicians? To shred some insights, did you know that as late as 1942, a famous medical textbook considered bloodletting appropriate treatment for pneumonia?
What is my point exactly?
Well, the role of physician have been changing over the centuries, the constant introduction of better tools and knowledge only serves to help them do their job better (read: evolution of the medical discipline ) but advancement in the medical discipline will not be uniformed, that’s why bloodletting is still considered by some to be an appropriate treatment for pneumonia as late as 1942.
If you found the above illustration beneficial or enabled you to obtained further insights on the nature of health(care), I suggest you read my whitepaper on Sustainable Adoption in Health Informatics.
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