Will AI and digital therapeutics steal healthcare professionals’ jobs?
Are AI and DTx stealing healthcare professionals’ jobs?
(Or will steal our jobs in the near future?)
The day I started writing this article I was explaining my sister what are digital therapeutics or digital health in a broader sense. We started coming across few examples to better understand them. Once we talked about AI algorithms able to better diagnose a specific pathology, reading X-rays or about medical-grade chatbots which deliver cognitive behavioural therapies, her first comment was:
“So, [artificial intelligence and digital therapeutics] will replace healthcare professionals”
I disagree and I started telling her (and now you) why I think so.
AI is great with repetitive tasks and, to date, we had available just narrow AI systems. So, they can ease the burden of repetitive and administrative tasks letting physicians and other healthcare professionals (HCPs) spending more time with patients and focusing on more complex cases.
Similarly, as with AI, HCPs like psychotherapists or general practitioners won’t be replaced by medical chatbots or other DTx in the same way they weren’t replaced by other new therapies.
These are additional tools that will empower not just patients but HCPs as well.
Yes, unfortunately it will happen that someone’s job will be replaced by machines, but overall and in the long run these new technologies will improve our lives without stealing our jobs (at least since AGI will emerge, but this is another story).
However, there will be a huge change, able to threaten your job if you don’t understand and embrace the new technologies of this digital health revolution:
Empowered healthcare professionals (by AI, DTx, etc) will replace the other (outdated) healthcare professionals.
NHS is preparing itself for new healthcare technologies impact
I guess that for this very reason on February 2019 the NHS published the Topol Review “Preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future”.
The report covers various topics, such as:
- the ethical implications arising from the use of digital healthcare technologies
- an overview of the technologies anticipated to impact on the NHS workforce mostly
- but also how to support the education and development of the whole workforce
- the potential economic benefits of AI, digital health and robotics for the health systems.
Top 10 digital healthcare technologies and their projected impact on the NHS workforce
So, what will happen?
Empathy and the human touch can’t be automated.
According to the World Economic Forum “The Future of Jobs 2018” report, artificial intelligence and new technologies are expected to cause 75 million jobs to be displaced by 2022 but also to create meanwhile 133 million new roles, with a net growth of 58 million new jobs.
Analysing the global health industry, it also says that
“Efficiencies in healthcare technologies will thus become necessary innovations to meet the demographic changes afoot, freeing time spent in administration and record keeping for care-giving activities.”
In addition, it also emerged that companies in the “Global Health & Healthcare” and in the “Chemistry, Advanced Materials & Biotechnology” industries are most likely to look to retrain existing workers rather than resolving the talent shortage through automation.
Indeed, while some workers are ready for this new technological era, many are not. It’s estimated that overall, across industries, 54% of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling.
Expected average reskilling needs by 2022
(across all industries, not just healthcare; data expressed as % of employees).
So, don’t stop learning and let’s be ready for the upcoming healthcare revolution.