Health Tech

Is AI Replacement Really So Bad? Execs Weigh In

There are too many flaws in AI for it to replace physicians, execs said during a Monday panel at the MedCity INVEST conference in Chicago. Instead, it should be used to make physicians’ work easier.

As artificial intelligence takes healthcare by storm, some physicians are expressing concern about being replaced by the technology. But would replacement really be so bad?

It’s bad when the technology isn’t “fleshed out,” said Ulili Onovakpuri, managing partner of Kapor Capital, during a Monday panel (sponsored by West Monroe) at the MedCity INVEST conference in Chicago. There are still a lot of flaws in AI. She used the example of using ChatGPT to build her own bio for work.

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“According to [ChatGPT], I went to medical school, I practiced for five years,” she said. “I really like that, I’m sure my parents like that. The reality is that’s not the case. It had me at companies I never worked at. There are still inherent flaws.”

Relying completely on AI could potentially really hurt patients, she said.

“My worry is if you’re putting that into a clinical setting, with a doctor who is rushed and doesn’t have time to check it, what type of chaos do you cause?” Onovakpuri said. “Do you get false diagnoses happening?”

The stakes are higher in healthcare than in other industries, she added.

“The thing about healthcare is you can’t go fast and break things because the things you’re breaking are people and you don’t want to do that. Right now, I see AI in a limited scope … I’m not 100% ready to turn it over to an AI system until we get that 99th percentile of competence,” Onovakpuri stated.

Dipa Mehta, senior vice president of corporate development and ventures at Advocate Health, was also a panelist and said there’s one thing in particular that is tough for AI to replace: empathy.

“The ability for [patients] to be able to talk to somebody to get a cancer diagnosis versus a machine telling you is actually very different. … I definitely think that there are elements around AI that can be helpful, but I think there are a lot of things that you need to really be able to change in order to get something better than what you can get from your physician,” Mehta said.

Instead of replacing physicians, AI should be making physicians’ work easier, added Mike Spadafore, managing director of Blue Venture Fund.

“My hope is that [AI] frees up doctors’ space to have more empathy,” Spadafore said. “There are just so many doctors out there that have to spend so much time playing with so much stuff in such a tight window. If you can make them more efficient, they can act with more empathy. I think the low hanging fruit — the part that I think is the most plausible and that I’m excited about — are all of these existing workflows. How do you make these workflows more efficient? … I think doctor replacement feels a little bit away.”

Photo: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay