In a world where the use of health technology and digital health services is constantly growing, some are concerned that the use of artificial intelligence in the health sector will replace doctors. We at eClinic believe that health technology is helpful, but that it can not take over for doctors or other health professionals.
In August 2021, it was announced that a £ 250 million framework for the NHS (UK public health) need to invest in intelligent automation solutions.
In this way, they should be able to take away administrative tasks that often prevent healthcare professionals from focusing on patients.
This has led to several new discussions in the UK about the use of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) in the healthcare sector. It is easy to imagine a similar discussion in Norway as well.
Some people are afraid that the use of artificial intelligence in the health sector will lead to less human input and less patient safety.
Where some fear the consequences of using artificial intelligence, we see that both healthcare professionals and patients embrace its use. Apps and advanced technology are used to find out what patients are doing wrong.
But the technology should not take over for either doctors or other health professionals. It must work with them. We see a development where artificial intelligence in the health sector is of great help to doctors and nurses.
Although the use of artificial intelligence is not a solution to all problems, it can contribute to a simpler working day for many. And at the same time as KI takes over some tasks, doctors and nurses will be given new tasks.
Artificial intelligence cannot be used for everything
Although KI and other health technology will take over and streamline more tasks, we do not have to fear health technology. Many of the tasks that KI tools will take over are also largely tasks related to administrative work, which is time-consuming and takes the focus away from the patients.
In other cases, the KI tools will be aids that can help with diagnosis, symptom analysis and image classification.
We will always need human interactions, and some patients will always choose a physical appointment with a doctor over a KI tool.
The strength of the KI tools lies in the fact that they can take over some of the responsibilities of health personnel, so that they can focus on the patients and provide the best possible care and health care.
Empathy can not be replaced
Although various digital tools can offer good solutions, we largely need human contact in meetings with the health service.
It will be difficult for health technology to mimic empathy. Compassion is based on a whole process where you build trust between yourself. This is done by listening to the other person, paying attention to their needs, expressing the feeling of understanding and responding in a way that makes the other person know that they were understood.
In situations where patients may feel very vulnerable, empathy is a very important part of medical practice.
Nor can we rely on such tools in all decisions. For example, they are not suitable for making a decision about when to take painkillers or not.
And even if a symptom checker can make the correct diagnosis, most of us will need a doctor to explain more to us about the diagnosis. It is also especially important that there is a doctor who conveys the message if we get a serious illness. They can guide us and provide the necessary support.
An app can not replace people in such situations.
Diagnosis and treatment are not always linear
Analysis of data, measurements and values is an important part of doctors' everyday work. And KI tools can be very helpful with this.
But we come back to the fact that even if an algorithm can make a diagnosis, it will not always be able to see the whole picture.
If a patient has contact dermatitis, it will be the doctor in collaboration with the patient who must eliminate possible allergens and find out what the patient is reacting to.
Patients also lead different lifestyles, which can affect the diagnosis. At the same time, different treatment methods will have different effects in different patients. For example, cancer develops differently from person to person.
Making a diagnosis and prescribing treatment is therefore not always a linear process, and sometimes several treatments must be tried before you get the desired results.
Artificial intelligence does not solve complex problems
There are especially some areas where the use of artificial intelligence in the health sector falls short, and that is when it comes to mental health.
Issues within mental health are often so complex that they will create problems for even the most advanced AI solutions.
This is one of the fields in the healthcare sector where patients are very diverse. Because even though many people have the same diagnosis, it is individual situations and experiences that form the basis of the diagnosis.
Therefore, it is also difficult to systematize and analyze data to get accurate results from an AI tool.
There will always be tasks that can only be performed by humans
Artificial intelligence can take over many tasks for healthcare professionals, but there will always be tasks that can only be performed by humans. We have been involved in the analysis of causal relationships in mental health, but there are also many physical tasks that must be performed by humans.
Although a symptom checker can analyze many symptoms and make many different diagnoses, for example, there will always be a need for people in emergencies.
In case of suffocation or acute bleeding, people will always play an important role in helping the patient.
What tasks should we use artificial intelligence for in the health sector?
If artificial intelligence in the health sector can not replace health personnel, then technology still has an important function.
Synchronized systems can save lives
Automated systems take care of common routine tasks to streamline and centralize them. This may mean that you have a common messaging system, rather than that each department and institution has its own internal system.
Automated systems can save lives because the flow of information is improved. This allows data and important patient information to be transferred between devices. In this way, various departments and institutions have access to all necessary information.
This can, for example, be medical record information that is important in an emergency situation, especially with a view to further treatment.
In addition, portable devices used to measure key values can forward information and inform the patient that they need help if the values change rapidly.
This increases patient safety.
Helps doctors see connections
Patient data is very important for assessing the state of health. However, in some cases it can be difficult to interpret the data available. Here, health technology has an advantage because it lacks the human factor.
Artificial intelligence can see connections that humans overlook, especially when it comes to diffuse symptoms or injuries.
An intelligent automated solution can, for example, pick up that a patient has been hospitalized with similar injuries in the past, and how often they have been hospitalized or have had contact with the emergency room.
The system can then mark this as a sign that the patient has been or is being subjected to violence.
Digital healthcare can help while the patient is waiting for treatment
We know that there can be a long wait for treatment, especially in some areas; as mental health. Here, the waiting list can be long, but precisely in such cases, digital health services can be helpful.
A solution that uses artificial intelligence will be able to follow up those on the waiting list, offer information and a form of interaction in a situation where many feel like in limbo.
KI tools can not replace human interaction and care, but they can also be of help and support through treatment. They can assist patients and help healthcare professionals decide the way forward and keep them updated on the patient's progress.
For some, it may also be easier to share their problems and symptoms with a "robot" than with a human. With KI tools, you do not have to worry about stigma or prejudice that can affect human interactions.
KI tools can become the right hand of healthcare professionals
Health technology is being implemented to an ever-increasing degree. Patients can book appointments via PC or mobile, and can be notified when the prescription is ready.
KI tools can also be used to sort out which patients need a doctor's appointment and who does not need to show up physically.
Unnecessary visits to a doctor or emergency room result in unnecessarily high expenses in the sector. Such unnecessary visits also take up time for GPs, who already have little time. An AI tool can help sort information so that those who need it get an appointment.
Such a system will of course be met with some reservations - computers are not perfect and they can overlook things. For example, they will not be able to analyze body language and voice usage as a human being can.
While the use of artificial intelligence in the healthcare sector can help those who would not normally consult a doctor, it may prevent those who are uncomfortable with technology from seeking medical help.
Conclusion: KI tools and people must work together
It is always important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of using KI and other health technology. It is nevertheless important to think that KI tools should not replace doctors and other health personnel, but be helpful.
We must use the tools in a smart way, so that we and the KI tools can work together in the best possible way.
A good example of such cooperation is a study which shows that KI using deep learning can be used to detect breast cancer with spread. When the system's predictions were combined with the doctor's diagnosis, the quality of the image classification and the accuracy of tumor location increased considerably.
In addition, the rate of human error decreased by 85%.
This is a good example of how artificial intelligence and humans are at their best when they collaborate.
In the long run, this will mean that patients receive better health care, and health personnel can have a somewhat easier working day.
Therefore, health technology is likely to be a driving force for changes in the health care system in the years to come. This is also the reason why health technology will be one very interesting investment area in the following years.