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How Many Doctors will AI Replace, and How Soon?

re:artificial intelligence
See also: Patients Can’t Be Categorized by Medical Algorithms

Sorry to the good doctors out there (there are some), but modern medical care is an assembly line practice that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth nearly every time. When I buy any other product, I usually feel that I got value for value. When I got to a doctor, I too often feel that I got little no value, or that I was outright scammed by delivery of “services” that amount to little more than what a 10-minute web search could do better. And I don’t even know the cost until after I bought, which is most disgusting of all.

Your experience at your doctor might be different, but with few exceptions, here is how it goes:

  1. Attempt an appointment. You might have to wait 1-2 weeks, or much longer.
  2. Go to the doctor. Wait on extra 15-45 minutes because they are too incompetent to have a system advising you even with a text message. Your time has no value to them. A scripted conversation follows, according to a fixed time slot of 7.35 minutes (or whatever). The doctor spends most of the time entering data, which directly interferes with his/her ability to listen. The questions miss important context and ask irrelevant things, but that helps occupy the time. If you are well informed and dare to ask a question that challenges any practice or orthodoxy, the doctor”s ego is bruised and goes into “we are done here” mode, which has various odors, some more pungent than others.
  3. The database now being populated, the doctor has the job done. The job being the database. Some chemicals to ingest to make you “better” are detailed on a paper. You are perhaps told to get some bloodwork or scan or whatever, and to come back in X months for a  “checkup” to see how much the chemicals have addressed a single endpoint which has little or nothing to do with total health.
  4. A week or two later after the tests, you go back for a cursory review of what could be handled in an email. It won’t cost you less than $200 or so. New or more chemicals are prescribed to make you “better”, based on epidemiological one-size-fits-all data for your “condition”. It being an average mythical patient benefiting, on average by a relative risk reduction of X% based on medical research that is highly profitable and likely fraudulent. And you are now on the treadmill. But no one will tell you that.
  5. Repeat.

How long before a gullible public figures this milch cow scheme out, and realizes that an AI could do all this 95% of the time, and better, based on a web form, perhaps with some selfies or similar? For 5% of the cost.

Powerful forces might get it done, definitely not the gullible public. Government and regulations will work hard to prevent it, driven by the medical establishment protectionism. Still, it is inevitable. The most fruitful approach might be getting doctors to adopt AI as a tool and improve their care. But in reality, it would be an apprentice looking to take their jobs. Before long, only the most skilled doctors would be needed, the others having little to add.

Already, radiology is better done by AI than humans in many cases, and it works 24X7. Surgery will surely be better done by AI than all but the most skilled surgeon. With far fewer complications. And I’d bet that psychiatry will be better done by an AI—if it’s good enough for sexbots (a major thing coming!), it’s good enough for the couch.

And just about every other medical field. And drug development, risk analysis, DNA analysis, genome analysis, etc.

Hopelessly out of date

Doctors have little time to stay current in their fields. What little time they do have to unlearn the half of what they learned in medical school which was BS will be spent reading biased conclusions in studies designed for known outcomes, and learning the latest acceptable standard treatment options.

But an AI can instantly and tirelessly incorporate all the latest everything, and in all fields. It can cross-reference ALL medical fields for new insights.

Siloed in their own specialty, doctors cannot possibly hope to have more than a tiny inkling of 99% of other medical specialties, let alone to stay fully current in their own field. Which means inferior care, medical mistakes, human suffering. But the AI can, and the AI will be aware of every medical field, all at once, and be able to “see” things no human brain is likely to.

OTOH, what if the AI is trained to see as truth all the fraud we see in the medical field today, meaning all the dubious “science” that is thinly-veiled marketing for Big Pharma and the medical establishment. Ouch.

Follow the money says that the wonderful potential of AI medical care will be compromised for profits, not for your health. I hope I am wrong on that.

A long time?

This will not be a fight about efficacy or accuracy or even patient outcomes: it will be a fight about jobs and the long history of medical guild socialism, and of fighting to continue to deprive patients of fundamental self-help rights that society now delegates to doctors. It will be about money—follow the money.

Witness the ferocious opposition to allowing nurses to do more of what doctors do, medical licensing boards, etc.

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