Alexa…I’m not feeling well.

June 21, 2018
Aaron Call

Author: Aaron Call, Principal at Jaunt LLC

The concept of artificial intelligence, blockchain and augmented reality are terms that, for me, have become far more functionally clear in the past year than ever before. Ironically, Healthcare is functioning in a similar fashion, but we are currently using humans instead of machines to accomplish it.

It is a somber reality to realize that physicians are for the most part, highly trained and skilled statisticians. They rely on staying up to date on current best practices through CME credits throughout the year and by sifting through peer reviewed articles. They then utilize this information to formulate healthcare answers and solutions for patients.
But isn’t this exactly what artificial intelligence does?

Today, PCPs and emergency room facilities serve as expensive answers to healthcare related solutions. We, as patients, are accustomed to utilizing these resources because insurance has molded them as the gatekeepers to justifying additional spending.

The technology to cause a paradigm shift in the healthcare industry is here; we just need humans to build it.  Artificial intelligence will be the first to enter our homes as the new gatekeeper of medicine. Alexa, Google home and others will be programed to sift through the same clinical literature that our PCPs get their knowledge from, asking similar questions and regurgitating similar solutions. However, the one element that AI cannot replace in the healthcare solution planning equation is the human element. Ironically, this element has been squashed by the healthcare system we have built because of the lack of adoption of technology.

I recently read an article entitled, “Doctors Tell All – and It’s Bad” by Meghan O’Rourke. In the article, O’Rourke relates a personal experience with trying to solve her own healthcare solution. In her article she states that, “For a system that invokes ‘patient-centered care’ as a mantra, modern medicine is startlingly inattentive – at times actively indifferent – to patients’ needs.”

O’Rourke also relates from her experience, “Spend a day in an emergency room, and chances are you’ll be struck by two things” the organizational chaos and the emotional detachment as nurses, doctors, and administrators bustle in and out, barely registering the human distress it is their job to address.”

But it’s not their fault! We have built a system that drives providers to function this way. As AI enters the healthcare industry, and our homes, it will have a tremendous effect on the way physicians work. We have the opportunity to replace the machine aspect of healthcare with machines, and allow the human aspect of healthcare to be run by humans. AI will act as the new gatekeeper and will free up physicians to focus on the human distress. Our nurses, physicians and clinicians, who went into healthcare to help people, will be able to bring this human element back and stronger than ever before.
The technology is here. The data is out there. We just need someone with enough horsepower to introduce it.

I believe Dr. Alexa may be my go to physician in the future.