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Future of Medicine – Part 1

I came across an interesting article today by Venture Capitalist Vinod Khosla, in which he suggests that 80% of what doctors do today will be replaced in the future. This includes the diagnosis, monitoring and prescription aspects of medicine which are likely to be handled more accurately through smart hardware and software. These tools will analyse thousands of data points of the patients’ both inter and intracellularly, leading to more holistic and instant insights, leaving more room for doctors to focus on empathy and ethical concerns.

As technology advances, it inevitably moves processes and systems towards increased convenience and efficiency. This trend will drastically reshape the role of a doctor in the future. By adopting AI as a friend, doctors will be more accessible, affordable and available. There will be less general doctors, and the ones who remain will be the ones who genuinely want to connect with patients, and likely the ones with a real passion to alleviate suffering.

Compare this to the healthcare system today: where only the top half of the world has access to doctors and hospitals, and even then they have the attention of a doctor for a few minutes on average. This leaves drastic room for improving access, availability, cost and time given per patient, all of which will lead to improved patient outcome; and why most doctors applied for med school in the first place: to save more lives. 

It is almost certain that AI will provide more accurate diagnosis and treatment plans than most human doctors. In a fraction of seconds, AI will process the symptom description and pick up on intricate patient factors, and search all available data online to find the optimal, personalised treatment. This will be possible through the analysis of thousands more variables for each patient, including genes, proteins and biomarkers at each level of drug dosage and monitor and target disease progression at a molecular level. In fact, AI driven medicine will be much more personalised than precision medicine which mostly focuses on genomic data, as it will analyse each person’s genome, transcriptome, microbiome, proteome (all the “ohmics”). Due to greater data processing capabilities than humans, AI will stay up-to-date with the latest research on all specialities and hence be able to treat patients holistically. Looking back at today’s medicine will feel like the computer version of looking back on typewriters.