British doctors skeptical that AI could replace them: Study

British doctors skeptical that AI could replace them: Study
Highlights

Although Artificial Intelligence AI is poised to make major disruption in health care, 80 per cent of doctors in the UK are skeptical of the technology replacing them, finds a survey

Although Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to make major disruption in health care, 80 per cent of doctors in the UK are skeptical of the technology replacing them, finds a survey.

Nearly seven in 10 UK general practitioners (GPs) believed that it was unlikely that AI would be able to outperform them when it came to diagnosing patients.

While more than 60 per cent of GPs believed it was unlikely for AI to ever be able to replace doctors in decisions about when to refer patients to specialists, nearly 95 per cent believed it was extremely unlikely for the technology to provide empathic care to patients as well as or better than the average GP.

"General practitioners believed that artificial intelligence could never replace them on empathy -- yet this is a skill that does not require special medical expertise," said Charlotte Blease, postdoctoral research student at Harvard Univerity's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC) in Boston.

"Our findings raise important questions about how current and future physicians integrate and harness the power of artificial intelligence, which could ultimately improve the delivery of care to patients," she added.

For the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, the team asked physicians about the likelihood that future technology would be able to fully replace the average GP in performing diagnostics; prognostics; evaluating when to refer patients to specialists; formulating personalised treatment plans for patients; providing empathic care; and updating patient documentation such as medical records.

Eighty per cent believed it was likely or very likely that future technology would be able to fully undertake duties related to patient documentation, such as updating medical records.

"The results suggest a disconnection between the views of experts in medical AI and practicing physicians: the overwhelming majority of general practitioners were unconvinced about the potential for technology to replace them especially when it comes to empathetic patient care," Blease noted.

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