Is AI-based Automation an Alternative to Primary Medical Care?

With the increasing complexity and hike of data in healthcare, it is evident that AI is undoubtedly being applied within the field. But the question here is “Is AI-based automation an alternative to basic primary medical care?”, which we’re going to discover here!

Well, a noteworthy number of artificial intelligence algorithms are already applied in the various fields of medicine. Of which, the crucial category includes patient care, initial stage diagnosis, and treatment recommendations, administrative applications, etc.

In 10–20 years, we won’t need primary care physicians for routine care. The remaining PCPs will specialize in caring for complicated patients. Other than that, if people need care, they’ll go to NPs or PAs or receive automated care with the help of AI.”

- Lyle Berkowitz, MD, and professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

Well for the proof of the concept, some of the acute conditions which are diagnosed and treated in outpatient care can now be treated with AI-based technologies. For example, ear infections might be diagnosed using a smartphone-based otoscope, and assessment of urinary tract infections can be done using at-home urinalysis so that patients would only have to visit their physicians occasionally.

Mentioned below are the ways in which AI has the potential to transform primary healthcare. Let’s take a look!

  • Population Health Management:

The ultimate goal of AI in population health management is to transform the view of an individual or a group of individuals from the fee-for-service model to a value-based model. This basically helps to identify the high-risk patients with preexisting medical conditions and then to reach out to them in order to provide them with proper care to keep them healthy. Thus, at some level AI automation can be seen as an alternative to primary medical care.

Check out more: Top AI-based Medical Imaging Tools

  • Initial Diagnosis and Treatment Recommendations:

So many actionable insights can now be obtained through AI-powered software. These are basically programmed to accurately diagnose the first symptom of a certain disease in medical images like X-Rays, CT Scans, MRIs, etc. Henceforth a clear diagnosis and recommendation for treatment using proper ways are now possible through AI.

  • Digital Health Device Integration:

Without the contribution of AI, the health devices are unfortunately unable to integrate with the EHRs (Electronic health record). Although they are very well-performing when it comes to tracking crucial heart health and vital signs, their data volume is still an issue. Fortunately, AI makes it work and the biggest example is Apple’s new Health Kit which integrates data from various wearables into the EHR which ultimately enables care teams to depict leniency and detect any deviations which point towards illness.

  • Clinical Prescription Review and Documentation:

Automatic speech recognition is a very commonly used technology today and it’s certainly not here to take the back seat. Technology innovators are going ahead in synchronization with the health systems so as to develop AI-driven digital scribes that have the ability to listen to the patient-physician conversations and automatically generate clinical notes or prescriptions in the EHR. This makes it easier for both ends when it comes to accessing easy primary health care.

While AI stands as the greatest second wave of technological advent, there are so many questions that arise almost in a span of a day. Questions like, ‘If I were a patient who was likely to follow a doctor’s advice to say: quit smoking, would I do the same thing if a computer told me to?’ or ‘If I was a non-compliant type of patient, would the AI robot be able to persuade me that this time, I should really take my blood pressure medication regularly?’ or rather ‘Would I be able to explain that I couldn’t afford the drug, and perhaps the physician should prescribe something less expensive?’ these remain unanswered.

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