SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Artificial intelligence entering our society has been a hot topic, sparking debates over robots taking over. However, this exciting new technology could relieve stress on doctors and improve patient wait times.
“Doctors and humans will never be completely replaced. Computers, technology and artificial intelligence can really make our life easier and that’s what’s exciting,” said Dr. Timothy Connelly, an Internal Medicine Physician at Memorial Health.
Memorial Health has not begun to use AI just yet, with more research to be done before implementing such technology, but they recognize its benefits.
“Like in clinical decision support, which is almost like a digital second opinion, if you will,” said Connelly.
AI can help physicians with diagnosis, organize data, automatically share data with other hospitals and more.
AI technology can see a patient’s vital signs and labs simultaneously, allowing it to identify trends and alert doctors to something they may have overlooked.
“Let’s say they’re stumped on something and they’re like ‘What do I do in this situation?’ They can ask the AI and sometimes it’ll provide some very good and valuable feedback,” said Connelly.
Thirty-eight percent of Americans believe that it would lead to better health outcomes for patients, according to a Pew research study, but 60% would feel uncomfortable if their providers used AI in their health care.
“AI is only as smart as the people who program it, so that’s why there are some issues with AI, so AI is not always perfect,” said Connelly.
Depending on the programmer and what knowledge is given, AI could exhibit bias. If only data on white and Asian patients were programmed, then recommendations for Black patients would be inaccurate.
“In medicine, you can’t be wrong, these are people’s lives. So that’s why when you look at AI now, we really have to know what we’re doing,” said Connelly. “It really has to be validated.”
Connelly is board-certified in clinical informatics, the marriage of technology and health care, and notes the importance of training new doctors on new and emerging technology to keep them ahead of the curve.
“For the medical students that I teach and the residents, we are starting to introduce how you can safely and ethically, and I wanna emphasize ethically, use AI in clinical practice when the need arises and when it’s OK to do so,” said Connelly.
Seeing its real-world applications in the next five to 10 years, Connelly looks forward to what benefits this technology can bring.
“But we have to have that extra layer of caution,” said Connelly. “So excited, yes. Cautious… absolutely.”