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Doctors vs. Algorithms?

Do We Need Doctors or Algorithms, asks Vinod Khosla.  The answer may surprise those of you spending your days worrying about an impending physician shortage.

"Eventually, we won’t need the average doctor and will have much better and cheaper care for 90-99% of our medical needs. We will still need to leverage the top 10 or 20% of doctors (at least for the next two decades) to help that bionic software get better at diagnosis. So a world mostly without doctors (at least average ones) is not only not reasonable, but also more likely than not. There will be exceptions, and plenty of stories around these exceptions, but what I am talking about will most likely be the rule and doctors may be the exception rather than the other way around.
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"What is important to realize is how medical education and the medical profession will change toward the better as a result of these trends. The vision I am proposing here, though, is one in which those decades of learning and experience are used where they actually matter. We consider doctors some of the most learned people in our society. We should aim to use their time and knowledge in the most efficient manner possible. And everybody should have access to the skills of the very best ones instead of only having access to the average doctor. And the not so “Dr. House’ doctors will help us with better patient skills, bedside manners, empathy, advice and caring, and they will have more time for that too. If computers can drive cars and deal with all the knowledge in jeopardy, surely their next to next to next…generation can do diagnosis, treatment and teaching in these far less uncertain domains and with a lot more data. Further the equalizing impact of both electronic doctors and teaching environments has hugely positive social implications. Besides, who wants to be treated by an “average” doctor? And who does not want to be an empowered patient?"
In just a few paragraphs, Khosla defines healthcare's future. Though I happen to agree, what I find somewhat depressing is that hospitals will sit, wait and have it done TO them, missing out entirely on the future's new, exciting value streams. Missing the opportunity to participate, to benefit and to re-envision the hospital as something beyond a massive, expensive and now-empty acute care cathedral.

Because if algorithms replace doctors, will doctors (and patients) still need hospitals?   Read the whole thing.

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