Artificial Intelligence and the Gift of Physician Time

Stanford 25's Abraham Verghese and Eric Topol

In a recent New York Times Q &A with Eric Topol, reporter Anahad O’Connor describes the cardiologist and author as someone who “has long heralded [the] convergence of technology and medicine.”

Now in a new book called Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again, O’Connor says Topol explores his belief that AI will go beyond enhancing diagnoses and treatments and “transform almost everything that doctors do.” This includes AI’s potential to eliminate time-consuming tasks like taking notes and reading scans, allowing physicians “to spend more time connecting with their patients.”

In the new book, Topol emphasizes that strategic application of artificial intelligence could “restore the care in health care.” This outcome, Topol says, is achievable because technology can give “the gift of time to clinicians.” For example, he points to “keyboard liberation, or using natural language processing of speech, to synthesize notes and eliminate the ultimate source of distraction and dislike in medical encounters.” Furthermore, he suggests that lessening administrative burdens could reduce the prevalence of burnout and depression among physicians.

Topol’s excited by the possibilities and so are we! We share his belief that it’s not an either/or issue; rather, incorporation of AI can preserve the doctor-patient relationship by creating time for physicians to be at the patient bedside.

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