The End Of Healthcare As We Know It

An evil, red-eyed robot walking down Main Street, bent on destroying humanity. You’ve seen the movies. It’s a sci-fi nerd’s wet dream. This, however (at least in principle) is nothing new. On the contrary, the fear of creating a creation destined to destroy its creator goes back further even than Frankenstein. It goes back, in fact, all the way to antiquity and the Greco myth of Prometheus, the Titan credited with the creation of man.

The difference today — sixty years into the Information Age and thirty into the rise of the modern internet — is that we actually already possess, or very soon will, all of the technology required to transform entire industries. But who will go? And with the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which professions will be rendered obsolete?

Repetitive, labor-intensive jobs will be the first to go. What happens when white-collar jobs start disappearing? Will AIs replace lawyers? What about artists and teachers? How will technology affect medicine and is AI a threat to doctors?

“Healthcare and education” according to venture capitalist Marc Andreessen“are next up for fundamental software-based transformation.” But what exactly does that mean? And how will technology manifest itself in coming decades?

Healthcare as we know it has three potential futures.

  • One, AI completely takes over the Healthcare Industry and we no longer have any need of human doctors.
  • Two, AI doesn’t take over and rather than run the risk of an AI-takeover we, as a society, choose to continue on with some of our more archaic medical procedures like, for example, chemotherapy.
  • And three, AI completely integrates itself into the modern healthcare system. Our healthcare, in other words, would for all intents and purposes be artificially intelligent.

Ideally, doctors will become something of cyborgs. They’ll be part human, and part machine, but they’ll operate as a single, superintelligent unit. The key here is that these sci-fi-sounding doctors-of-the-future could utilize the best of both man and machine.

Rather than wasting inordinate amounts of time mulling over mountains of healthcare data our doctors of the future could focus their attention instead on developing personalized treatment plans and patient-centered care while the machines worry about the technicalities. And this, quite obviously, could be a very good thing.

Systems like IBM’s Watson are, after all, already surpassing human-doctors in several important functions. So it’s only a matter of time before AI in the Healthcare Industry becomes ubiquitous.

Patient-centered care not only inevitably is but actually should be the direction in which we want the Healthcare Industry to go. It’s better for everyone. It’s better for patients because it improves the intelligence and overall effectiveness of the care they’re provided. And it’s better for doctors because it enables them to do better the job in which they truly first got into medicine to do in the which, of course, is to help people. Not to get buried in paperwork and administrative nonsense, but to help people.

Machines can process more information at faster speeds than we as humans can ever hope to. So then why not let them, the machines, do what they do best while we, the humans, do what we do best. And what do we do best you ask? Well, we can interact and connect with one another on an emotional level that is (and will continue to be) incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for any machine to ever replicate.