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What will the doctor of the future look like?

With new advances in the field of artificial intelligence (AI)—as well as the publication of a handful of high-profile studies demonstrating that AI systems can offer diagnostic capabilities surpassing human doctors in specific cases—many believe the next generation of physicians will have their healthcare capabilities enhanced by these special computer algorithms. Experts believe that these systems will help relieve physicians’ burdens, increase interoperability among different information technology systems, expand patient access to specialty care, and improve treatment plans for chronic conditions.  

Vimla Patel, PhD, director of the New York Academy of Medicine’s Center for Cognitive Studies in Medicine and Public Health, says the idea that AI could help solve many of healthcare’s biggest challenges should not come as a surprise. Modern computer programs are very good at sifting through vast quantities of data. And between electronic health records (EHRs), genetic sequencing, and mobile health data, more and more aspects of healthcare, from diagnosis to clinical decision-making, is becoming data-driven.

“Doctors are human beings. Human beings have limited memory and cognitive resources to apply to what can be very complex medical problems,” she says. “And given that we are overburdening physicians with so many other things, having the extra help from computers to take on that complexity can be a very good thing for patients—and for the doctors themselves.”

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