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Can medical bots, AI fully replace doctors?


The evolution of medtech has been exponential in the last few years. Your healthcare journey is now routinely interfaced with machines, portable gadgets, digitised records and all manner of tech applications that hardly require the presence of humans.

Further integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into medtech continues to place you at the centre of your healthcare needs. In fact, you may consider replacing your human doctor with an artificially intelligent bot. I'm sure you have heard of ChatGPT and what it has been capable of doing in other professions that include journalism and education.

Med bots can be used to cross-check simple and bothersome symptoms. You might be harbouring an unusual ache, or a rash, or some other symptoms that just seem to linger on and on. You can simply bypass your regular doctor, or nurse and get some advice on what course to take. All you need is web access, and an impersonal interaction with a med app that will sieve through your symptoms and suggest a remedy.

But you must be selective with medical apps. There are far too many in the market, some are shoddy and may lead you onto the wrong pathway. There are many health parameters that you can monitor.

You can calculate your caloric intake and physical activities, and relate the data onto your cardio-metabolic health. With some specific conditions, you’ll even go as far as doing some self-testing, coming up with rapid results and specific remedial actions.

Med bots may struggle with complex symptoms, and they won’t help you in acute and life-threatening situations. Just like ChatGPT has been challenged by specific matters that are yet to be programmed into its repository. Your old-fashioned human doctor comes in handy in such situations.

Don’t sit around with persistent symptoms, despite your med bot appearing to suggest appropriate remedies. Or sifting through one med app after another and getting nowhere. The longer you procrastinate, the more the likelihood of your disease progressing into an incurable state.

Medtech is increasingly getting you to the point of self-diagnosis, and self-treatment. You can do so much for yourself if you remain proactive and conscious of your health status. Equally, there is potential to do yourself some harm if you become too carefree and overly dependent on med apps.

A careful balance is what is required, keeping you away from overzealous human-directed med interventions, and saving you some costs as well.

If not already taking advantage of all the medtech already at your disposal, please take some steps to get onto it. All you need is web access. But keep your wits about you, bots aren’t real humans.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynaecologist and Fertility Specialist. [email protected]

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