The remote doctor, can it ever work?

UNICEF child doctor

UNICEF/Dejongh A little girl being vaccinated in the town of Bouaké, in Côte d’Ivoire. Immunization in the country is free for children bellow one year old, but three out of five children do not get vaccinated before their first birthday.

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Mr Haris Čampara, Student at Medical faculty, University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Hee is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

In times of ever-growing technology, one can’t help but wonder, if the framework of the machines will ever catch up to the mind of a human. One of the biggest questions is, „Could a machine use its learning algorithms to master medicine?“.

Either by using inductory or deductory thought process, could machine ever become as sophisticated as a human being? To be honest, machine is way more capable than human in terms of memory, and even data processing. In reality, they are more cost efficient, and more likely to discover diagnosis and administer the right treatment.

By connecting to the internet, a robot could instantly download all the latest guidelines that are necessary for uniform treatment. In the event of surgery, no human can ever be as efficient as a robot, since it is not limited by fatigue and has finer motor control and sensor input. However, in terms of surgery, a robot will never be able to recognize all the possible complications that may arise in surgery, and in its attempt to fix things, it can potentially hack and slash at at a patient killing him instantly.

When it comes to bedside manner, a robot is a cold dead machine. You can try programming it to be empathetic, but all people realize in the end that they are talking to themselves. Human medical staff prevents feelings of abandonment and speeds up patient recovery, while in case terminal patient, a robot could provide a little comfort and empathy needed to ease the passing away.

So let’s talk about humans. Easily distracted, easily fatigued and less cost efficient, but then again fellow humans. No machine can ever understand a human, like a fellow human can. So how could we use machines/robots in medical field? Well, it’s simple. We use them like tools, just like we always used tools.

Objects designed to make work easier. We can always have a robot suggesting us a diagnosis, or assisting in surgery. Remote control is something that all of the civilized world is familiar with, and thus in surgery, a surgeon can save a lot of time and energy manipulating operating robot.

When it comes to prescribing therapy, a robot can always give us suggestions, based on latest guidelines, or even suggest the preventive measures based on the input we give it regarding the patient. This would not only make medicine a lot better, but also it is not very expensive and it is possible with current technological achievements.

Even at home, we can have robots, that can be remotely accessed by a fellow human doctor, who will figure out a diagnosis, administer therapy,  or even help with patient rehabilitation. The goal is to use the machines and all of their inherent advantages, to make life easier for both, patient and doctor, while providing the best medical care possible. It is a new era, and we have to make the most of it.

About the author

My name is Haris Čampara. I am 24 year old student attending 6th year of medical studies in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. At BoHeMSA, my NMO, I proudly serve as a  LORP. I have a lot of love for anything regarding human rights and peace and strive to make myself bigger person, and the world a better place for us all.

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