Will Your Doctor Become A Robot?

As we march further into the 21st century, automation is becoming ever more real. From robots on factory lines, to automated vacuum cleaners. There is growing talk of the thousands of jobs that will be lost to automation. Truck, car, and train drivers are all at risk. Couriers, pilots, and stock pickers could all be replaced by drones (both flying and on wheels). If a job can be done by a machine, it will be.

There are a plethora of jobs that exist across almost every market, that are repetitive and based on rules, that humans do, only because a machine has not be designed to do it yet. So,does that mean that soon your doctor or nurse is going to be replaced by a smart manikin?

Whilst there are many jobs that can be made redundant by automation, there are also a great number of jobs that, rather than being replaced, will be enhanced through automation. Health seems to be one of those areas. Being a doctor or nurse is as much about tradecraft (not the John Le Carré use of the word) as it is about what you learned through medical training. It can be both investigative and creative. And, most importantly, about being compassionate to another human in their time of need.

But, being a clinician is also about having a load of repetitive, simple tasks that get in the way of the core job. Automation can help with those tasks. Freeing up hours of time for all of the staff in a clinical organisation to do more of the complex and meaningful jobs.

Whether that is appointment booking, basic triage, test result analysis, prescription requests, decision support, referral requesting, etc, there is so much room for automating these processes. Automation is coming to help the people of healthcare, rather than replace them.

We live in a world where machines are trusted to fly planes for hours (even land a jet liner if needed), drive trains on the Underground, and the DLR, open our doors, and to suggest our music. Automation is about building or teaching something once, and then allowing the system to take over and run with it.

In a lot of cases, we don’t see much of the automation around us. And that’s it’s magic. It can work behind the scenes. It does not need praise or recognition. It only completes its duties tirelessly and on time. We are not creatures designed for repetition. We are capable of much more. Automation allows us freedom, not extinction.

Sadly, this writer doesn’t yet have a coffee brewing and delivery drone…


James Barton

James is a freelance writer and specialist in Digital Health. He brings his perspective as a leader within a reknowned supplier to developments within the healthcare technology industry.

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