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Experts on the workforce replacement

Patients, healthcare professionals, and industry representatives express their opinion on the workforce replacement.
How will AI affect the healthcare system in the future?
ANDREAS LEMKE: It will most improve diagnostic quality, and radiology will be one of the first that will benefit of that.
ANNA LEONTJEVA: We’ve seen a lot of advances from the technology point of view in health care with the robotics assisting surgeons, with the procedures being less invasive. And I think AI systems have a chance to improve it further, but they will be more targeted towards more personalised prescriptions, or better and faster decision making around diagnosis.
KIM BEUSCHAU MOURIDSEN: I think it’s difficult to say, because the industry and also researchers still have a lot to learn about where are really the valuable applications of AI in healthcare But I believe, for instance, that we will be using AI to detect disease earlier, which is a win. We will also be able to make workflows at hospitals more efficient, which is good for patients. They get a shorter door-to-needle time, but it’s also a good for hospital staff that would be less overworked, and will all-in-all be able to provide a better service for the patient.
PISANA: I think it’s likely to be more and more pervasive in many different areas, including diagnostics, imaging, robotic surgery, I’ve seen amazing things in that. Even just administration. I’m not an expert, so there may be many more. But I think that in the post-COVID era, which is going to be mostly virtual or hybrid, there’s a lot of scope for telemedicine, for example. And I also think digital tools can be really useful for better patient self-management and patient empowerment. How will AI affect the healthcare system in the future?
ANGEL ALBERRICH-BAYYARI: At the beginning, we were saying that AI would support doctors, but now knowing the performance of last AI models and also being honest, we recognise that AI will substitute some of these doctors, especially those ones working on mainstream healthcare activities. Some straightforward examinations like chest x-rays, prostate MRI interpretations, where a lot of screening is needed. This can be done by AI if the performance is accurate. These doctors will, at the same time, dedicate to more complex and specialised activities.
MARIANNA LAHT: I think it will be their support, and it will help professionals with the basic routine tasks.
ERIK RANSCHAERT: I personally don’t think that AI will replace certain specialists. But we will have to reframe the tasks that we have as clinical specialists. We will have to think how we can use it and integrate it as good as possible. I personally am convinced that those who will not use AI will be replaced by those who do use AI.

In the previous step, you already reflected upon the potential workforce replacement. We also wanted to learn the opinion of patients, industry representatives, and healthcare professionals themselves on whether they think AI will replace the professionals.

Another healthcare professional shared the following anecdote:

To demonstrate how technological advancement works, just consider the start of the digitalisation of radiology. Before the digital imaging archives and review on computers, radiologists would be working on large lightboxes where several sets of films of different patients could be hung and they could scroll through those using a foot pedal. The hanging of these films was in some hospitals part of the job of the radiological technicians. With the introduction of digital archives and screen viewing, the hanging was performed by the radiologist and increasingly automated. This development therefore did not lead to a full loss of jobs, but a shift in work for the radiological technicians. However, with the digitalization of radiology, jobs like the darkroom staff that developed the films disappeared, as did the job of the transcriptionist with the introduction of voice recognition and digital reporting.

Most experts seem to indicate that artificial intelligence will be able to at least replace certain tasks performed by healthcare professionals. Do you think this is something that should be avoided or something we should embrace? Did the anecdote change your mind? Share your thoughts in the discussion section.

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How Artificial Intelligence Can Support Healthcare

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