Owase Jeelani MBA
MPhil (Med. Law), FRCS, Consultant Paediatric Neurosurgeon
A fundamental dichotomy exists within healthcare systems – they are designed by healthcare professionals, but they are needed by patients; and the two see things differently — the classic agency problem.
Doctors measure complications. Patients experience adverse events and live with the side effects. Which perspective takes precedence? Health and wellbeing aside, at a time of escalating healthcare costs and strained healthcare systems, there is a degree of urgency in revisiting this question.
Human and artificial intelligence in harmony
We live in the age of big data and algorithms fuelling artificial intelligence systems. The above question and inconsistencies will become more ‘visible’ in the not-too-distant future. Quoting an ‘acceptable complication rate’ while a much higher proportion of patients suffer an adverse event will not pass any more.
The ‘prudent patient’ expects and deserves to know the incidence of adverse events related to their treatment. Our profession is a noble one, and I do not wish for us to be caught off guard, yet again. I believe human intelligence can continue to maintain an edge over our AI systems and — coupled together — deliver what is needed. This does require us to be at the forefront, leading this change and not being dragged along by an increasingly distrustful audience.
History must not punctuate our
generation as the one between
the pre and post-intelligence ages.
Utilising artificial intelligence with humans in mind
I worry that, in the years to come, like pre-Renaissance, our generation of healthcare professionals will be branded as from the ‘pre–intelligence age’ — where we continue to distort the optimal management of our patients by our intrinsic biases (mostly subconscious) and shortcomings. An age where, if an error is not directly attributable to the surgeon, it ‘does not count.’
We must choose to make it an age where perspectives are acknowledged, data is respected and where we address our intrinsic biases and distortions and produce a thought stream leading this intelligence revolution. History must not punctuate our generation as the one between the pre and post-intelligence ages but, rather, a generation where natural intelligence, once again, rose to the challenge and harnessed this new tool of artificial intelligence for the improvement of the human condition.