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    AI has brains—but it’s no MD


    AI can save lives by recognizing patterns that lead to disease. Imagine a baby having its genome sequenced and the pediatrician recommending a tailored diet to help prevent atherosclerotic plaque formation in 50 years. Imagine an internist reviewing his patient’s Apple Health data on diet, sleep, and exercise in concert with genetic information and creating a treatment plan to help prevent the development of diabetes and the associated sequelae. With respect to oncology, it’s always going to be nearly impossible to address de novo mutations leading to tumors, but AI could identify risk factors and offer behavioral modifications to help reduce the risk of cancer. AI might be able to constantly survey patient-derived data on responses to medications in the acute care setting and recommend treatments that might reduce iatrogenic risks.

    The key component of future healthcare may be the utilization and integration of AI to help identify inchoate problems before they manifest. AI is slowly but surely going to become part of our electronic health records, our imaging systems, and our surgical instruments. It’s important to know that AI is how we are going to reach our goals of reducing cost, increasing clinical efficiency, and most importantly, helping our patients. But AI is not going to replace a doctor’s caring touch and cannot replace that “gut instinct.”


    1. Lewis A. The Cambridge Handbook of Psychology and Economic Behaviour. Cambridge University Press. May 2012

    2. IBM. Go beyond artificial intelligence with Watson. https://www.ibm.com/watson/

    3. Hernandez D. Wall Street Journal. Hospital stumbles in bid to teach a computer to treat cancer. https://www.wsj.com/articles/hospital-stumbles-in-bid-to-teach-a-compute...

    4. Herper M. Forbes. Watson may not have as much promise as hoped. https://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2017/02/19/md-anderson-benche...

    5. DeepMind Health. https://deepmind.com/applied/deepmind-health/

    6. Siemens Healthineers. Data is the only way to meet the future needs of our patients. https://www.healthcare.siemens.com/magazine/mso-clinical-data-intelligence.html

    7. University of California-San Francisco. TRACK-TBI. https://tracktbi.ucsf.edu/

    8. Makary MA, Daniel M. Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US. BMJ. 2016;353:i2139.


    Brian A. Levine, MD, MS, FACOG
    Dr. Levine is Practice Director at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, New York, New York.


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