Health is one of the most precious assets of a human being, unique to everyone, unlike all other commodities and treasures. It is meant to be given at birth and once taken, it’s time to leave this world. It is also the nature of human beings to want life to last forever, and unless he is suffering from poor health, the knowledge that he will leave this world is the basis for devastation and sorrow.
For this reason, we always must define health within the context of morals, compassion, and empathy, where healthcare and the art of medicine will be the bridge between psychological and social well-being and biophysical balance.
In recent years, many have been astonished by the progress we have made towards creating the latter, but as medical professionals or even patients, are we keeping up with our commitment to offering compassion and moral support to the sick? Or are we doing enough to maintain that bridge between virtues and physical necessities?
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I believe we are not just because we don’t want it but because we are not presented with the entire picture. Technology is in the fast lane, but healthcare is not and what we are seeing are piecemeal excellence and unrealized achievements.
We are so much into technology that we have forgotten that there is a human variable in any good healthcare delivery system equation. This type of disconnect may be stemming from a variety of reasons:
It could be due to significant financial gain for the startup industry to say that the technology they are about to unveil is the silver bullet of its market. Or a general hypothesis that technology is the solution for human survival and immortality, or simply it is a distraction from the reality of differentiation between healing the sick, correcting laboratory exams, and solving a mathematical equation created based on laboratory data using sophisticated algorithms.
Or maybe unconsciously, we see robotic medicine as an immortal being, and we try to be one eternal with the help of the machine and deep learning technologies.
But eventually, we need to be able to draw the line between immortality and immorality.
“In the day and age in which immoral artificial intelligence is about to conquer the tasks of memorization and precision, there will be even more urgent need for clinicians who are compassionate, caring and creative.”
As we are cruising towards precision medicine, and as healthcare professionals, we need to acquire a new set of skills in line with ever-advancing artificial intelligence and healthcare technologies in general.
That is, of course, if we want to maintain the true meaning of medical practice. Yes, this requires additional diligence, talent, and interest. There will be a steep learning curve accompanied by resistance from the healthcare community and an overzealous attitude by technologists, especially those with the slightest knowledge of the healthcare industry.
We are entering the woods of the healthcare market disrupted by technologies that are either poorly regulated or not regulated at all. As physicians, we need to step out of the woods look at the big picture.
Yes, we need to come to a different mindset, avoid politics and monopoly, maintain independence at every individual point, be it patient, physician, or healthcare stakeholder. Work smarter and not necessarily harder.
Medical school curricula must incorporate basic knowledge of technology, whether health IT or deep learning, just like learning how to use a stethoscope by an internist or scalpel by a surgeon. The concept of a robot taking over physician practice on its literal meaning is nothing short of being absurd and immoral.
Technology and science are the immortal legacies of all human beings left behind despite their inevitable impermanence. And that transience is full of unpredictabilities that its byproduct can never solve. Technology provides precision and speed, where human skill and intervention maintain quality and dignity.
We need to maintain the solvency of our society, healthcare started by our predecessors while maintaining individual values, embracing the right technology that the right individuals hold with the right skills to be used in suitable patients now as well as for our future successors.