Apr 04, 2019 09:12 AM EDT
Today, the average doctor visit lasts about 11 minutes, with most of that time spent with the physician staring at a screen or clipboard. Artificial Intelligence could actually allow caregivers to spend more time with their patients as machine learning could free doctors from having to type medical information into patient files while also helping give patients better access to their personal data. Artificial intelligence in the medical field was the topic of a discussion with Eric Topol-founder and director of the nonprofit Scripps Research Translational Institute-at Fortune's Brainstorm Health conference on Tuesday in San Diego.
Topol's positive outlook on AI in the medical field is also the topic of his new book, Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again. To achieve this optimistic future, he said the healthcare industry must aggressively adopt artificial intelligence. Beyond humanizing healthcare, deep learning, a type of artificial intelligence, can also reduce human error and help doctors make better decisions.
"All that effort can then get us to what we've been missing for decades now, which is the true care in healthcare," Topol said.
In today's medical field, human error seems to play largely in misdiagnosis as well as some undiagnosed health concerns. "Radiologists falsely clear patients of disease 32 percent of the time," Topol said. "Meanwhile, gastroenterologists regularly miss small polyps that are just as pre-cancerous as larger ones."
"We have to fess up to how bad things are now," Topol said. "All these things can be improved by deep learning and machine vision." He continues, "All these things have already shown to be [improving], it's just a matter of getting these techniques clinically validated."
Artificial intelligence also creates opportunities for new discoveries, collecting and organizing massive amounts of data both from patients and medical literature that would be just too tedious for a human to compile. This would allow doctors to provide more individualized care for patients. It also could lead to improved wearable technology and innovations like virtual medical coaches that give patients health advice.
In light of all these things, artificial intelligence could also improve career longevity of doctors, who otherwise may become "burnt out", as well as deter early retirement, and hopefully change the ever-growing notion that enrolling in medical school is just a bad career path.
"What we need is some hope," Topol said. "It's reassuring that we have a path, that if we work on it hard, we might get there."
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