Digital HealthDoctor’s New Stethoscope Name is AI!

Philippe Gerwill Philippe Gerwill3 years ago10 min

“As a doctor, it is my duty to evaluate the situation with as much data as I can gather and as much expertise as I have and as much experience as I have to determine whether or not the wish of the patient is medically justified”

This quote would be so great and remarquable today in the time of big data and digital health revolution if it would not have be written by Dr Jack Kevorkian, better known as “Dr. Death” or “Dr. Suicide” in the 20th Century.

But in my opinion he was more than right regarding the data he would be able to gather alongside his expertise and experience but it should have be used to cure and save lives, not to do euthanasia.

Today too many people and quite often doctors themselves are feeding a competition or even a fight between Big Data and especially Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare Practitioners.

What should end up into a major and seamless collaboration between today’s fast moving health technologies including AI in particular and doctors, is unfortunately starting with such unnecessary egocentric time consuming and time wasting discussions and fights.

In Beijing on 30th of June 2018, an artificial intelligence (AI) system scored 2:0 against elite human physicians in two rounds of competitions in diagnosing brain tumors and predicting hematoma expansion in Beijing.

AI beats doctors in diagnosis competition

The BioMind AI system, developed by the Artificial Intelligence Research Centre for Neurological Disorders at the Beijing Tiantan Hospital and a research team from the Capital Medical University, made correct diagnoses in 87 percent of 225 cases in about 15 minutes, while a team of 15 senior doctors only achieved 66-percent accuracy in 30 minutes.

The AI also gave correct predictions in 83 percent of brain hematoma expansion cases in 3 minutes, outperforming the 63-percent accuracy in 20 minutes among a group of physicians from renowned hospitals across the country.

The outcomes for human physicians were quite normal and even better than the average accuracy in ordinary hospitals, said Gao Peiyi, head of the radiology department at Tiantan Hospital, a leading institution on neurology and neurosurgery.

To train the AI, developers fed it with tens of thousands of images of nervous system-related diseases that the Tiantan Hospital has archived over the past 10 years, making it capable of diagnosing common neurological diseases such as meningioma and glioma with an accuracy rate of over 90 percent, comparable to that of a senior doctor.

All the cases were real and contributed by the hospital, but never used as training material for the AI, according to the organizer.

Wang Yongjun, executive vice president of the Tiantan Hospital, said that he personally did not care very much about who won, because the contest was never intended to pit humans against technology but to help doctors learn and improve through interactions with technology.

I hope through this competition, doctors can experience the power of artificial intelligence. This is especially so for some doctors who are skeptical about artificial intelligence. I hope they can further understand AI and eliminate their fears toward it,” said Wang.

Stethoscope vs AI should not be the name of the battle

That is where the analogy with the stethoscope, the key symbol of healthcare and doctors came to my mind. Although it was invented in 1819 by a French physician, it took decades until doctors actually started using it to replace this kind of wooden horn which there where using before to listen to the patient’s heart or lungs.

I hope that doctors would welcome such healthcare data based AI like BioMind AI much quicker and endorse it as a major medical tool surpassing by far the use of their outdated stethoscope.

We all know that people including doctors, nurses and other caregivers or even patients don’t like changes. It is new, challenging and forces them to get out of their comfort zone.

Seeing the sunny side of AI to become healthcare change management experts

Dr. Lin Yi who participated and lost in the second round, said that she welcomes AI, as it is not a threat but a “friend.” AI will not only reduce the workload but also push doctors to keep learning and improve their skills, said Lin.

Bian Xiuwu, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Science and a member of the competition’s jury, said there has never been an absolute standard correct answer in diagnosing developing diseases, and the AI would only serve as an assistant to doctors in giving preliminary results.

Dr. Paul Parizel, former president of the European Society of Radiology and another member of the jury, also agreed that AI will not replace doctors, but will instead function similar to how GPS does for drivers.

Getting Adaptative Lifelong Learning into our genes

A few months ago I wrote an article on Linkedin about what I decided to call ALL: “Our Future is ALL (Adaptive Lifelong Learning)”

This is of course also very valid for most if not all the Healthcare related jobs. HCPs and other Caregivers don’t have the required time today to update their knowledge. In most of if not in all the countries in the World there are not enough of them to even spend more than 15mn to 30mn average time with their patients. Where should they find the time to update their own knowledge with the increasing amount of data and new insights that would become available with the proliferation of additional medical information available through new data collections and sensors quickly building huge big data repositories.

Only appropriate computing power in conjunction with AI would be able to take away that burden and deliver it as readable and meaningful data to doctors.

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Philippe Gerwill

Philippe Gerwill

Defining himself as a Digital Activist, Philippe is a recognized inspirational speaker, a futurist as well as a mentor/coach with a proven record of accomplishment especially in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. He is regularly speaking about Digital Health including Digital Therapeutics, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain for Pharma, Internet of Things or other Digital Transformation topics in the Healthcare industry at major events and conferences. While he is mainly speaking in Europe, he is also well known in Asia where he is actually an Industry Advisor for IoTSG, the biggest special interest group around the Internet of Things in South East Asia. Philippe is also an official mentor for the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and is actually working since more than 12 years at the Novartis Headquarter in Switzerland, most recently as an IT Supplier Manager.

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