Are robots ever going to replace doctors? Experts say ‘no’

Are robots ever going to replace doctors? Experts say ‘no’
The panel addressed the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in the medical field. (File photo: Thomson Reuters)
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Updated 23 January 2020

Are robots ever going to replace doctors? Experts say ‘no’

Are robots ever going to replace doctors? Experts say ‘no’
  • The panel addressed the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in the medical field

DUBAI: The growing use of technology in the healthcare industry will continue to expand but should not take over from the primary care provided  by doctors and nurses, a panel of health experts said in a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum on Thursday.

The panel addressed the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in the medical field, agreeing that all care should remain focused on the needs of the patient, adding that “robots can’t replace doctors.”

But Leif Johansson, chairman of the board at pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca AB, said the technology would be especially essential to “screening programs and extending access to care.”

“The only way to support primary care centers with low-skilled people, for screening purposes, will be with AI, robotics,” he explained, citing India as an example of a country with a shortage of qualified doctors who can address the needs of a massive population.

While technology presents potential benefits to the industry, Lisa Sanders, Associate Professor at the Yale Medical School, said she was concerned current technology faced a “barrier in data input.”

“How is AI or the robot going to get the data they need from patients?” Sanders, the doctor who was the inspiration behind the hit US TV show “House,” said, questioning how technology “would be able to assess patients when they’re complex and confused.”

Jodi Halpern, a professor of bioethics, shared the same sentiment, and highlighted what she described as three important situations when “a relationship with an actual human doctor makes a difference for effective healthcare.”

One was taking medical history from patients, Halpern said, explaining most patients would only disclose personal information when there’s empathy from doctors.

“If we don't get a good history, we won't get a good treatment," she added.

Another was ensuring patients take medication, and lastly was helping people deal with bad news.

Sanders, a physician herself, said “it’s not the thinking” that doctors need help from technology for, but "other things like dealing with poorly conceived systems of medical records."


Goldman Sachs nudges U.S. growth forecast higher on Biden stimulus plan

Goldman Sachs nudges U.S. growth forecast higher on Biden stimulus plan
Updated 17 January 2021

Goldman Sachs nudges U.S. growth forecast higher on Biden stimulus plan

Goldman Sachs nudges U.S. growth forecast higher on Biden stimulus plan
  • The bank expects economic growth of 6.6% in 2021
  • Biden outlined a $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposal on Thursday

Analysts at Goldman Sachs Group raised their U.S. growth forecast for the second time this month on expectations that President-elect Joe Biden’s fiscal stimulus plan will hasten the economy’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bank expects economic growth of 6.6% in 2021, compared with a previous forecast of 6.4%, according to a report published on Saturday. It also raised forecasts for how much stimulus the new administration will be able to push through in the near-term, to $1.1 trillion from $750 billion.
Biden outlined a $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposal on Thursday, saying bold investment was needed to jump-start the economy and accelerate the distribution of vaccines to bring the coronavirus under control.
“Larger boosts to disposable income and government spending imply stronger growth later in the year,” the bank’s analysts wrote.