A cute robot is dressed like a doctor treating another robot patient.
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Doctors v robots: How AI could transform working in healthcare

19 Nov 2020

The future healthcare workforce could benefit from AI technology, but it will require some upskilling and new recruits.

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There are myriad ways technology will shape the future healthcare workforce and how patient care is delivered, from informatics and specially designed apps, to 3D bioprinting. But one area of technology with a significant transformative potential is artificial intelligence (AI).

EU-backed healthcare innovation organisation EIT Health released a report with McKinsey earlier this year examining how healthcare could be transformed with AI and how this would impact people working in the sector.

The report, which surveyed healthcare workers and decision makers, suggested that there is an urgent need to attract data-literate healthcare professionals and upskill the current workforce as AI becomes a greater part of this sector.

Nearly one-quarter of those surveyed (21pc) believe that diagnostics is the area most impacted by AI right now. However, many believe that clinical decision making will overtake this in the next five to 10 years. Respondents also highlighted the potential for AI in self-care, diagnosis and operational management.

So where does that leave healthcare practitioners? According to the report, AI won’t replace them. Instead, it will “augment their capabilities to deliver impact for patients and healthcare systems”.

It predicted that this technology will allow healthcare practitioners to “refocus energy on patients”, by streamlining or eliminating between 20pc and 80pc of their workloads. It could also help deliver complex care to patients as clinical data evolves and expands in the future.

Managing this relationship between AI and humans will be critical. EIT Health and McKinsey said that new professional disciplines will need to be integrated into healthcare to achieve this, such as AI engineers and data scientists.

“There will be an urgent need for healthcare organisations to attract and retain such valuable and in-demand talent by developing flexible and exciting career paths and clear routes to leadership roles,” they said.

People with diverse knowledge will need to work together in the future healthcare workforce to harness the potential positives of AI. They will need to collaborate on testing possible solutions, for example, and scaling the feasible ones across the system.

Infographic showing how AI could transform the future healthcare workforce.

Click to enlarge. Infographic: EIT Health

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Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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