With Iain McCulley
The increase of AI and robotics in the medical field is met with mixed feelings — but that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, introducing AI and robotics into medical professions can revolutionise how we administer treatment, making lives better for both the patient and the professionals.
Some of the topics I’ll explore include:
- Robotics in Surgery
- Advancing Medical Diagnosis
- Overcoming the Talent Crunch
Robotics in Surgery
Surgeons (just like many other medical professionals) are chronically overworked. If the stress of the job isn’t enough, there is a major backlog in the NHS. This can lead to fatigue, exhaustion, and burnout.
Pushing yourself to this extreme is guaranteed to have you running on fumes in no time, but that’s not the only option anymore.
Benefit for Patients
This is where I think AI, specifically Robotic Surgery, can create some drastic improvements. Current advancements mean that some AI robotics can complete minor surgeries, allowing surgeons to focus on more complex operations.
What’s better, because of AI surgery’s precision, patients experience less scarring and bleeding. In turn, they recover faster, and fewer are re-admitted following surgery.
Ultimately, this means that patients spend less time in the hospital, so more patients can be seen sooner. This limits the waiting time for patients, and means that those with painful conditions don’t need to suffer as long, while waiting for their surgery.
Benefit for Surgeons
There simply aren’t enough surgeons to handle the current demand, and reduce the backlog. “Rather than contributing to a loss of jobs, this can help fill gaps and help support the surgeons we do have with their workload”. In turn, they could have more time to focus on their personal well-being, and produce better results in more complex procedures, like keyhole surgery.
AI is already everywhere. From the navigation on your SatNav, to the Autocorrect on your mobiles and computers, to even which posts you see on Social Media. We rely on Artificial Intelligence in almost every area of our lives, so why not let it improve surgery too?
Advancing Medical Diagnosis
It’s not just surgeons who can benefit from AI, however. In fact, GE Healthcare recently acquired an AI Imaging Firm, Caption Health, to help detect disease earlier and provide more precise diagnoses. A single misdiagnosis can be a costly mistake; by bringing AI-enhanced devices into the mix, we can spot other potential causes more easily, and reduce the number of incorrect diagnoses.
This is especially important as telemedicine and virtual diagnoses become more common. Post-pandemic, this area has sky-rocketed, with many GPs taking virtual appointments in an effort to see more patients.
Of course, one issue with an online consultation is a greater chance of misdiagnosis. AI-powered diagnosis tools should help reduce the chances of misdiagnosis, and ensure that patients get the correct treatment sooner.
Improved Patient Experience
Of course, this can result in a greatly improved patient experience. It means GPs can focus on the patient, while AI collects and sorts information. For instance, AI could map symptoms against family illnesses and highlight the likelihood of different causes.
Using AI in examinations could also suggest rarer illnesses and diseases, which may not be spotted in an initial consult. Altogether, this leads to a better standard of care, while simultaneously reducing the workload.
The Talent Crunch
The peak of the Talent Crunch is fast approaching. There’s a growing deficit of workers with a suitable skill set, and the MedTech industry will be one of the most significantly impacted industries — especially considering the general scarcity of skilled professionals in the market.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that AI, robots, and digital health will replace humans and there’ll be a loss of jobs. In reality, companies need to utilise technology and adapt if they want to overcome the worst of the talent crunch. This, in turn, will actually create more opportunities for highly-skilled professionals.
Medical Professionals across the world are stretched thin. Due to a shortage of skilled, qualified workers, many of these experts may have had to pivot their careers and become more generalist than specialist.
AI and robotics can ease the strain, making it possible for medical professionals to return to their passions.
Overcoming the Talent Crunch
By effectively combining Digital Health with Healthcare, I anticipate that rather than limiting the positions on the market, it’ll actually create more jobs. Of course, the skill requirements for these jobs will also evolve.
As these positions evolve, finding candidates with the correct blend of skills will become more challenging.
I always recommend looking to solve problems internally; however, this isn’t always possible. It’s more important than ever to find the right talent partner who can act as an extension of your business.
The Future of MedTech and AI
The idea of involving AI and Robotics, or Digital Health, in the MedTech space can be unsettling. It’s a new technology, so nobody can really predict how exactly life will be affected, but I’m optimistic.
There is very little chance that Digital Health will replace jobs, nor should they. I firmly believe that if we learn how to merge AI with Healthcare effectively, then this could completely revolutionise the space.
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