Machines are increasingly performing tasks as efficiently as humans, at lower costs and better speed. AI and robotics is a growing industry and has permeated the healthcare eco-system in a big way. This has led to the big questions ‘Will Robots treat us in future?’.

Already Mr. Rayfield Byrd, a resident in Oakland, California, is using a robot named Mabu to help him manage his heart disease. Mabu has bridged the gap between doctor and computer by obtaining necessary information from patients and relaying it to doctors who can modify the treatment accordingly. Technology applications being used by many individuals are helping them achieve healthier lifestyles by putting them in control of their health. It is also helping healthcare professionals provide better support to their patients.

How AI is Transforming Healthcare

An AI program developed by researchers at Houston Methodist Research Institute in Texas, interprets mammograms with 99 per cent accuracy and is 30 times faster than regular biopsies. The program reviews millions of records in a short period of time, enabling the detection of breast cancer more efficiently through a mammogram. It is being used to check for early-stage heart disease, to catch episodes at more treatable stages. Cognitive technology is being used by healthcare organizations to develop reliable data and help in the diagnosis of diseases. AI is also being used to identify high-risk patients who may develop conditions due to various factors like genetics, lifestyle, environmental, etc. through pattern recognition.

In China, an AI clinic was started in Guangzhou for the diagnosis of cataracts – an eye disease that could lead to blindness. There is a shortage of eye care practitioners in China and AI could help more patients than the average ophthalmologist. In another instance, two algorithms were trained by Luke Oakden-Rayner, a radiologist, and Leon Chen, co-founder of medical AI startup to figure out how it matches with a medical professional as it learns. The algorithms are meant to detect tumourous nodules and check for malignancy Developments like these can reduce the number of tests for patients and lower medical costs.

Will Robots treat us in future?

The impending question is, will robots treat us in future? The simple answer is no. AI is intuitive and helpful but medicine cannot be viewed purely as science. Diagnosis and treatment of diseases need nuances that only a human being can bring to the table. Machines can never replace the capacities of physicians, that includes knowledge of social relationships and ideas that cannot be replicated by AI. Associative and lateral thinking is also essential for complex conditions like the preferences of patients. AI cannot be trained to pick up on the nuances of human emotion and aren’t being designed to take the place of human doctors. Besides, human touch and compassion cannot become obsolete and technologies can only assist healthcare professionals, not replace them.