It’s a widely spread belief that, eventually, all human doctors will be replaced by robots. Some say as soon as 2035.
There are actually several advantages of robots over so-called “human” doctors:
Doctors are prone to burnout. If a robot burns out, just replace the battery pack and reboot it.
Physician burnout is a much thornier issue.
In its worst forms, physician burnout can incapacitate a good doctor - or render him or her unable to practice medicine.
Doctors have “opinions” or “impressions” about what’s wrong with their patients. Robots - not at all.
The artificial intelligence (AI) programmed into robots will make such opinions unnecessary and, in fact, a sad and sorry anachronism - just a flashback to the day when doctors still needed to risk guesses in medicine.
Robots have a much shorter pipeline to the front line of patient care.
Most doctors “practicing” medicine today had four years of post-graduate education (i.e., medical school) and a three-year medical residency - at absolute minimum - plus a lifetime of continuing medical education.
Robots have about one day on the factory floor (being built or assembled) and maybe another day of initial programming and “tweaking” to remove any rogue robot tendencies.
Robots can very quickly and decisively solve the serious doctor shortage problem many countries face.
Not enough doctors? No problem.
Just order a shipment of shiny, freshly-minted robots.
Burned out human doctors?
No problem. Just dump the human ones and replace them with always polite and never acrimonious, argumentative, or arrogant robots.
In addition, many of the clinical decisions doctors make are expensive for patients and to the health care system overall.
With robots, we will need fewer expensive or “miracle drugs”, whose cost brings another “miracle” on the bottom line of pharmaceutical companies.
We often listen to human doctors complain about declining reimbursements, increasing administrative burdens and all the other myriad frustrations of practicing medicine.
Robots can lower the high cost of health care in many countries.
Let’s face it and call it exactly as is: human doctors are simply a necessary evil and a very expensive one after all.
So for a next breast exam or pap smear… go see a robot.
And gentlemen: the robot will never fail to find, palpate, or accurately characterize your prostate.
Its sizeable metallic finger will self-lubricate before insertion.
Is it possible to replace the human doctors with robots?