Will AI replace your doctor?

AI enabled medical devices are increasingly making their way into every sector of the medical profession, supporting decision-making that could potentially affect life or death for patients. As these technologies improve, a pressing question emerges: Should we trust AI or the doctor?

AI enabled medical devices are becoming more prevalent and powerful, raising new challenges and ethical questions regarding human oversight and responsibility. We accept human mistakes as inevitable, yet we hold AI to higher standards. According to the WHO ethical principles, AI should not replace human decision-making, but rather augment it, and humans should always have the final say on health matters. But when AI outperforms doctors, which should we trust more?

Device manufacturers currently try to avoid liability issues by stating for example, that the AI does not make a diagnosis, it is only a suggestion etc., but we all know that we humans tend to take the least burdensome approach, especially under stressful conditions. This could especially be a risk with younger, less experienced medical staff. If the AI was correct in 99 cases out of a hundred, why wouldn´t it be right on the hundredth too? Studies suggest that AI could indeed reduce misdiagnosis rates, especially for rare diseases, where only the most skilled doctors can match the ability of AI.

Interestingly, some AI systems can now monitor a doctor’s surgical performance and suggest technique improvements during operations. This raises the question: Who is monitoring whom?

There are numerous questions to address to ensure that AI-enabled medical devices can maximise their potential benefits while minimizing their potential risks. With a clear and consistent framework for assessing and regulating AI-enabled medical devices, we can put our trust in them – or rather in the people that made them.

Will AI then replace doctors? Well, there’s a famous saying – Its origin unclear – that AI is not going to replace your doctor, but the doctor using AI will replace the one who doesn’t.

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