Perhaps the reason for this is a fear of change, or ingrained professional attitudes that are resistant to a transfer of power. Or perhaps it’s a more extreme fear: that robots might, one day, replace doctors.
Among the speakers on the digital health panel at the War on Cancer event was Dusty Majumdar of IBM Watson Health, whose artificial intelligence sequencing technology has allowed doctors to sequence glioblastomas (a rare and aggressive form of brain tumour) in ten minutes, rather than seven days. Majumdar pointed out that fear of automation is misplaced, saying: ‘It is not a matter of machines replacing doctors: it is more that radiologists who use artificial intelligence will replace radiologists who do not use artificial intelligence.’
Meanwhile Neil Bacon, founder of patient feedback website iWantGreatCare, eloquently summarised his take on digital health: ‘These new technologies have side effects, like all drugs ever. But we must find them, and mitigate them. Do not let perfect be the enemy of good.’
Regardless of individual opinions, it is only a matter of time before technology will change the way we deliver, and engage with healthcare. For better or for worse – and my guess is the former.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The Health Policy Partnership.