Monday, March 11, 2024

Why Tech Can't Replace All Work in Healthcare

Progressions in technology, specifically AI, are accelerating at rates that some view as alarming. Media has always filled newspaper pages with scaremongering, sensational headlines suggesting that technology will take away your job. 

With advanced medical devices and sophisticated data analytic technology already serving as perfect evidence of the extent to which technology can enhance the overall efficiency, effectiveness, and accuracy of healthcare supply, it's easy to understand how a reader might be deceived into believing their job, given the rate of advancements in technology, could soon be in the hands of robots and artificial intelligence. However, medical scribe jobs and other tasks that would appear to the wider world replaceable by tech remain steadfast and essential. Why? 

So, how has technology benefited healthcare? 

Anyone who's worked within healthcare for a sustained period knows just how transformative technology has been for producing better results for patients and improving overall efficiency. 

From medical imaging technology, robotic and minimally invasive surgery, and precision medicine improving the treatment of patients to artificial intelligence, health IT, and electronic health records improving the preservation and organisation of data, medical procedures are smoother, more precise, and more seamless than ever before thanks to improvements in technology. 

Some have theorized that improving technology in healthcare matters just as much as new scientific understandings and discoveries. At the same time, other studies indicate that technology implemented successfully has resoundingly positive impacts on communication and connectivity, real-time recording, improved medication safety, better medication reconciliation, and the generation of significant clinical data for analysis and treatment. 

But there are, for now, many aspects and critical criteria of a physician’s or medical scribe’s job that a robot cannot fulfill. We live in a complex society, and many nuances require human and emotional understanding. So, let's talk about a few. 

Ethical and Moral Dilemmas 

A set of values and principles doesn't solely decide decisions and dilemmas within healthcare, but subjectivity, cultural background, and an ethical understanding of the situation. According to studies, during daily practice, doctors and nurses must make moral decisions based on their perception of "good" to understand the best course of action in the patient's interest.

As humans, our understanding of 'good' is incredibly complex and subjective to our cultural beliefs, primary socialisation, and institutional values. No AI can relive the ethical lessons we've learned through our lives or connect these ideas with broader institutional healthcare values. There is no universal, objective 'good', so AI can't be trusted to solve solutions to delicate, layered situations where moral dilemmas may be prevalent.

The Human Touch

Imagine a loved one of yours was receiving sensitive information about their health or even end-of-life treatment – you'd be adamant, deserving, and in need of genuine human empathy and understanding. Healthcare providers know how to transfer information insightfully yet consider the sorrow and pain a patient may be enduring at that moment. 

As humans, we all suffer somewhere along the line; therefore, receiving news from another human ensures relatability and understanding for the patient. Technology can help assist with the accurate diagnosis of diseases and illnesses. Still, it cannot be trusted to interpret the information or accurately and effectively relay it to an anxious patient. 

Early indications suggest AI will be incapable of experiencing sentiment or emotionally responding to situations for quite some time, let alone possess the ability or have enough familiarity to relate to humans in a way that makes us feel comfortable.

Unforeseen Circumstances and Adaptability

Only a handful of industries are as dynamic and unpredictable as healthcare. Conditions, circumstances, and factors that constitute and create challenges within healthcare can swing instantaneously, so workers require high levels of initiative, adaptability, and quick thinking.

Studies show that the most successful results in healthcare derive from a combination of practices, processes, and long-term strategies, with immediate adaptations, interpretations, and innovations of standardized methods. AI can understand principles and defined methods but lacks the same initiative and creativity human intelligence possesses in fast-paced, high-stakes environments.


The planet's future remains unclear, and it's impossible to know where technology will go and how society will respond. Still, patients will always require human healthcare providers' care, creativity, and knowledge to ensure they're adequately appreciated, communicated, and looked after.

 Successful advancements in technology within healthcare only give workers better tools to implement their roles rather than entirely wiping out human labour and intelligence.

This is a guest blog entry.

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