Embracing Artificial Intelligence: Turning Fear into Opportunity | by Ashlie Elver | Nov, 2021

Ashlie Elver

I read an article recently talking about Google’s use of artificial intelligence (AI) to detect diabetic retinopathy at a higher accuracy than trained ophthalmologists. This got me thinking about the perception of technology in medicine and how our profession must shift its thinking.

In medicine, people think technology can replace them. It causes a reactionary response of fear and leads to a push back on advancements such as Google’s new technology to detect diabetic retinopathy.

It’s easy to understand why people in medicine think like this. We dedicate our formative years, decades, to master this profession. Can you imagine if you felt that that could all be taken from you? You might use the power of your influence, or simply offer an expert opinion to sway against such a technology.

But what if we could instead see technology as opportunity? And embrace advancements to improve efficiency and the infrastructure of medicine. What if instead of fearing these ideas, our reaction was to go toward them. What if the ophthalmologist viewed this as a tool, instead of a barrier?

This seems simple, but only when you pull back the disguise. And you see, it’s easy to disguise things in medicine. You can simply hint at the complexity of healthcare and people will brush off new ideas. It becomes impossible to see how an innovation could fit into our perception of the system.

I would argue that it starts at the top, with the physician. If we could see past our pessimistic view of healthcare, we could use innovation to better our profession. There is an unacceptable standard in medicine. A level of efficiency that would easily be cause for firing in another profession.

I think the young minds who decide to embrace innovation, will instead of seeing it as something that will fail, will succeed. These people can and will change the face of medicine, and I want to be one of them.

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