As artificial intelligence takes healthcare by storm, some doctors are expressing concern about being replaced by the technology. But would the replacement really be that bad?

It’s bad when the technology isn’t “developed,” he said Ulili Onovakpuri, managing partner of Kapor capitalduring a Monday panel at MedCity INVEST conference in Chicago. There are still many bugs in AI. She used the example of using ChatGPT to build her own bio for work.

“According to [ChatGPT], I went to medical school, I practiced for five years,” she said. “I really like it, I’m sure my parents like it. The reality is that this is not the case. It had me in companies I’ve never worked in. There are still inherent flaws.”

Relying entirely on AI could potentially really harm patients, she said.

“My concern is if you put it into a clinical setting with a doctor who is rushed and doesn’t have time to check it, what type of chaos are you causing?” Onovakpuri said. “Do you get false diagnoses?”

The stakes are higher in healthcare than in other industries, she added.

“The thing about healthcare is you can’t go fast and break things because the things you break are people and you don’t want to do that. Right now I see AI in a limited way … I’m not 100% ready to hand it over to an AI system before we get to the 99th percentile of competence,” Onovakpuri said.

Dipa Mehta, senior vice president of business development and ventures at Advocate Health, was also a panelist and said there’s one thing in particular that’s hard for AI to replace: empathy.

“The ability to [patients] being able to talk to someone to get a cancer diagnosis versus a machine telling you is actually very different. … I definitely think there are elements around AI that can be useful, but I think there are a lot of things that you really have to be able to change to get something better than what you can get from your doctor,” Mehta said.

Rather than replacing doctors, artificial intelligence should make doctors’ jobs easier, added Mike Spadafore, CEO of Blue Venture Fund.

“My hope is [AI] frees up space for physicians to have more empathy,” Spadafore said. “There are just so many doctors out there who have to spend so much time playing with so many things in such a tight window. If you can make them more efficient, they can act with more empathy. I think the low-hanging fruit—the part that I think is the most plausible and that I’m excited about—is all of these existing workflows. How do you make these workflows more efficient? … I think physician replacement feels a little off.”

Photo: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay


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