In a recent commentary published in National Journal, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, predicted that as much as 80 percent of a doctor’s job could be replaced by computers in the decades ahead. Contrary to this, the news story, Technology in Healthcare: Why Docs Shouldn’t Feel Threatened, argues that the split in duties will more than likely be equal stating that the need for doctors is just as necessary as the demand for technology.
Tools such as clinical decision support software, as commentary author Darius Tahir points out, is proof that technology is valuable and important in helping doctors provide their patients with quality care but not eliminate it altogether.
While it’s true that technology assists doctors and treatment efforts, the patient and doctor relationship can never be replaced or forged. It is often this relationship that is one of the biggest contributing factors in a patient’s recovery and the idea that computers will ultimately replace the physical care of a physician, or even the majority of it, is hard to compute.
A patient’s journey to health is comprised of multiple influences ranging from family support systems to positive thinking, but one of the most powerful is their relationship with their doctor. The honest and trusting relationship that forms between a patient and physician and network of nurses during treatment is a precious resource that costs nothing beyond time and effort. This human connection cannot be paralleled by any technology and is why computers will never be able to fully eliminate patients’ innate desire to trust in and be cared for by doctors.
Hospitals’ staff give a patient an invaluable tool during treatment: compassion. Compassion is one of medicine’s most underestimated and overlooked resources and will never be substituted by any software. A common phrase comes to mind; just because you can doesn’t mean you should, meaning that just because a computer can or could do a doctor’s job does not mean that it should. In line with the Fierce Health IT article, physicians should not feel threatened by technology because it will never have the ability to feel, empathize or care for a patient on a human level.
Despite rapidly developing medical technology, we are still eons away from computers being able to mimic human emotion. Doctors spend weeks, months and years forming valuable relationships with their patients and it is these connections that empower the healthcare community. For further reading on why doctors should not feel threatened by technology, please refer to the original article posted on Fierce Health IT.