Take heed: The road to high-tech healthcare is quietly building itself

The global excitement around healthcare’s embrace of AI and other developing technologies is not misplaced, but it needs to be tempered by an ongoing watchfulness for misuse.

That’s because transformative change is unfolding so quickly and on so many fronts that its collective effect is difficult to track.

The point is made, in so many words, in an analysis published online May 8 at LiveMint, website of India’s financial newspaper Mint.

“Bad actors could game AI for financial gain,” writes senior associate editor Leslie D’Monte. “For example, hospitals could make alterations to patient scans in order to generate diagnoses that drum up higher payouts from payers. Or doctors could tweak their language to produce an intended diagnosis, whether or not it’s accurate.”

And sometimes the intentions are good but the execution is clumsy, yielding bad outcomes.   

Noting that medical errors cost U.S. healthcare up to 200,000 lives and close to $20 billion each year, D’Monte points out that errors brought about by poorly trained AI tools “could add to these losses, with hospitals bearing the brunt of the consequences.”

D’Monte speaks with several experts on the good, the bad and the promising but unproven of high-tech healthcare. Among them is a neurosurgeon who says that, going forward, physicians may no longer be the go-to experts in patient care.   

“Tomorrow’s doctor could be an engineer, a robotic engineer, or could be just a guy who is so good in mathematics and is able to unwind pieces of DNA together and create something out of [robotics and 3D printing],” says the neurosurgeon, Dr. Rajakumar Deshpande of multi-country Fortis Healthcare. “I imagine tomorrow’s doctors would be trained differently, the skill set which is very different from what we possess.”

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