AI and the physician: A blessing or a curse?

The interface between AI and the physician is a complex one. Some view AI as part of the digital transformation of health and care and leverage it as a clinical extender, while others think that all it will bring is a damaging change to the existing role of the physician.

Like most innovations, AI can be deployed in a variety of ways and can be viewed as a positive development or the converse. Our attitude to change in healthcare to innovation does however skew our stance in many instances.

We tend to view changes to the existing business model as potentially deleterious unless proved otherwise, and, although there are merits to us being cautious, mainly because we need to make sure we satisfy safety and consistency of outcome, perhaps we sometimes overshoot the balance between assurance and innovation and end up not innovating at all.

We also, on occasions, tend to view any adverse event associated with new technology using different parameters of risk to what we normally use. Thus, adverse events in deployment or operation of new technologies tend to attract negative publicity, even if the elements of risk that they expose people to are less than the ones which the system is exposed to at present.


We tend to use this term in the same breadth as machine learning although there are differences in how we should interpret these phrases. AI is as old as the hills and is in essence machines doing things that we would consider to be “clever”, whilst machine learning is its application.

We are in the foothills of a wholescale adoption of the deployment of AI from the adoption of mechanised processes to read images more consistently, from simple routine radiology to fundoscopy and also to more esoteric and in many ways exciting developments, like the ability for us to identify which cases of potential sepsis need intervening early and which do, or do not, require antibiotic treatment.

But what is the potential to deliver better care in these instances? 

The full blog has been published in the second issue of the HIMSS Insights eBook. Charles Alessi is the Chief Clinical Officer for HIMSS International. HIMSS is the parent company of Healthcare IT News.

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