Becoming a doctor is a lengthy and arduous process.
Doctors have to learn all the fundamentals about the body. Anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pathology and many other subjects provide the foundation of knowledge to doctors, who build and store a medical “database” in their brain.
As we all know it takes a few years to get trained. But is this enough?
Just the fundamental knowledge of medical school is not enough. A physician needs a lot of practical experience to get better at recognizing patterns. The reason is because our human body does not always behave according to fixed rules or, shall we say, rules that we recognize so far. We are an extremely complex entity and patients have their own unique patterns and behavior.
This is the part where the doctors need additional training to combine with their textbook medical knowledge through actual experience with the patients. It is called residency. It is the most difficult time of training for an aspiring doctor.
During this time they build patterns in their mind of what the patients tell them, how it fits into their model of the medical school fundamentals and what might happen to these patients in the future so that they can treat them in the best way. Doctors have to make sure that they do not miss anything important and constantly prioritize, based on their experience about disease patterns learnt from previous patients.
One thing is for sure: Doctors are in constant pattern recognition mode during their work, based on their fundamental knowledge plus from the experience of interacting with similar patients in the past.
One of the issues is that many patients are not seen by the same doctor for long. There is a need for specialization, focusing on a small area of medicine and becoming super specialized in that. So one doctor might see a patient and then will have to refer to a specialist and eventually lose track of the patient once they are out of their network.
This is an important fact. Physicians miss the whole picture of many patients because it is not always the same physician that follows up with the same patient. Eventually though, during the long training physicians will have seen many similar patients and are able to have an internal representation on what might happen to them. This is the human prognostic model built mentally by doctors. This is one of the reasons why experience plays an important role in medical training.
The most experienced doctors can go through medical records and give you a probable future for a patient.
This is currently called prognosis, the prediction of likely course of a disease. It is more of an art rather than exact science for doctors. It is what we call subjective prediction. And during residency doctors always trust the prediction of the most experienced doctor around.
Prognosis is not taught in the medical books. It is only published in medical journals.
Some statistical prognostic models exist but they are either difficult to use (requiring inputs that are not always readily available) and/or developed using very basic regression models.
What might happen if we trained an artificial intelligence software on the full history and data of millions of patients? Train it to correlate with future outcomes and build advanced prognostic models? Supplement our hunch and experience and make it automated and usable in providers’ everyday practice? It would certainly enable providers to make more informed and data oriented decisions. Help understand the best option for every patient and make decision making very fast. The final decision will always be providers’ though, because nothing can ultimately replace human instinct.
This artificial intelligence might even give us capabilities beyond what we can currently do. Providers are best at talking with patients, comforting their worries, helping them make best decisions for their future. Unfortunately, they have to spend 80% of their time going through data in front of a screen. Many patients do complain about the doctor looking into the screen instead in their eyes during a visit.
How about empowering ourselves with an AI that will augment us. Give us more time to spend with our patients. Give us prognostic insights and let us do the diagnosis that we are best at. It will function as a trained specialist that goes through all the data and gives us timely prognostic insights….
Welcome Jennysis, we have created you to empower and help our lifesavers and the guardians of our health – the doctors. You will never displace them. You lack empathy, you lack the power to take responsibility over lives.
But you excel in big data analysis. Exactly where our doctors do not have so much time to spend at… You can bring data-driven prognosis to our lives. We believe that this is the right time for an AI technology to empower the most hardworking and responsible individuals of this planet, doctors, the everyday heroes that keep us healthy.
We created this technology with you on our minds and we believe that you too will welcome Jennysis!