All posts by endocrine-witch

Artificial Intelligence & Healthcare

Merriam-Webster defines Artificial Intelligence (AI) as the branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior on computers, or the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior.

How do you imagine AI in healthcare? Is it more like No. 5 in Short Circuit or Sonny in I, Robot? Let’s talk about AI and healthcare at the #HealthXPH tweet chat on tonight 29 Jul 9 pm Manila time (9 am EST).

Bertalan Mesko has enumerated the ways that AI can redesign healthcare on the medicalfuturist.com.

  • Mining medical records
  • Designing treatment plans
  • Assisting repetitive jobs
  • Getting the most out of in-person and online consultations
  • Health assistance and medication management
  • Precision medicine
  • Drug creation
  • Helping people make healthier choices and decisions
  • Analyzing a healthcare system

What do you think? Can you add to this list?

T1. In what ways do you think will AI redesign healthcare?

Pierre Pina enumerated the 7 jobs that will be killed first by robots. These are:

  1. Truckers
  2. Construction workers
  3. Legal advisors
  4. Medical staff and doctors
  5. Accountants
  6. Editors
  7. Sellers

Healthcare workers are on the list because of the excitement surrounding IBM Watson who is getting smarter daily. After all for 1,000 cancer cases, Watson matched the treatment plan of oncologists 99% of the time and even suggested options that oncologists missed in 30%.

While I am willing to concede that Watson can beat a human doctor in intelligence, I’ve always thought though that empathy is something that AI can never replace. But John Brandon thinks that by offering information in the right amount “it knows we need to reduce stress or understand people on a deeper level,” AI can teach us to have more empathy.  Maybe something like Samantha in Her.

T2. Do you think that AI will replace doctors? Why or why not?

Bernard Marr curated the best quotes on artificial intelligence on forbes.com. Two quotes stand out from Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk.

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race….It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”— Stephen Hawking told the BBC

“I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. I mean with artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon.” —Elon Musk warned at MIT’s AeroAstro Centennial Symposium

And now even Mark Zuckerberg has joined the fray calling Elon a naysayer.

T3 Do you agree with Stephen Hawking or Elon Musk that AI will end humanity? Why or why not?

See you at the #HealthXPH tweet chat!

Let’s Talk About Physician Suicide

I’ve two sons. The younger one wants to be an entomologist, while the eldest is still deciding on a career. I’d be perfectly happy if none of them chose to be a physician like myself. I think medical school is too darn long and so damn hard. I certainly survived it and so can they, but at what cost? My maternal instinct is to shield them from the hardships I experienced.

I once asked, are doctors allowed to have a bad day?

We are trained to put patients first. And when lives are at stake, we cannot allow ourselves to have a bad day. Or so we think… until a physician commits suicide.

The damaging culture of medicine is evident when Dr. Michael Myers (author of Why Physicians Die by Suicide) says that physicians look at burnout as a badge of courage.  As a senior internal medicine resident and later as Chief Resident, I’ve seen trainees burn out. He/she may quit suddenly but it is never on a whim. Often it comes slowly, with a gradual painful realization of one’s unworthiness. As Chief Resident, I struggled to find the words to console and uplift. How can you tell a soul so deflated, to continue?

Danielle Ofri writes about Physician Suicide and the Tyranny of Perfection

We’ve been asked for a perfection that is unachievable, yet the system acts as though the expectation is eminently reasonable. It’s no surprise that disillusionment is a prominent feature in the medical landscape today… To feel that you are falling short, every day, saps the spirit of even the most dedicated of physicians. We feel as though we have been set up to fail.

This made me think of grit. My sons are still young. At the school orientation before the opening of classes, the principal exhorted parents to help the teachers develop grit in our sons. This was no doubt inspired by Angela Lee Duckworth’s Ted talk, Grit: the Power of Passion & Perseverance. SkepticalScalpel is of course skeptical if it applies to surgical residency. He writes in Who has Grit? Cutting Resident Attrition Rates

The Guardian story said Duckworth’s father often disparaged her, and she reacted by trying harder to prove him wrong.

In today’s world, can you imagine teaching a resident to persevere by using disparaging remarks? I don’t think so.

I tend to think that the average medical student has more than average grit. So perhaps the question should be, how do we maintain grit? Will harnessing grit prevent physician suicide? But does grit mean not asking for help when it is needed? What happens to physicians when one of their own commits suicide? Do we all just muster grit and move on?

We’re discussing physician suicide at the #HealthXPH tweet chat on June 10, 9 pm Manila time. Join us! Tweet your answers to the following questions.

T1 How can we change the “damaging culture of medicine” with it’s “tyranny of perfection” to prevent physician suicide?

T2. How can we reduce the stigma around doctors receiving mental health care?

T3. Does your training program have an “after a suicide toolkit”? Please describe.