AI slowly creeping into healthcare industry

Artificial intelligence (AI) is slowing spreading into health care like making appointments or getting patient's initial symptoms, or a computer program that never misses repetitive scans or images, where a human might make a mistake.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston professor of biomedical informatics Dr. Dean Sittig, PhD, said even the most advanced program cannot replicate empathy.

"There's more to being a doctor than just collecting information, processing that information and making a diagnosis. Sometimes, that human touch is what you need as much anything else," said Sittig.

He said in healthcare, they're trying to maintain the human aspect.

"I think a lot of healthcare providers and healthcare provider organizations are reluctant to make the current healthcare system any more dehumanizing than it already is," said Sittig.

He said if a computer controls all the questions and you don't get a chance to ask questions, that's not really a conversation, that's more like an interrogation.

A tech company already has AI in a few grocery store clinics in Arizona and Idaho and wants to expand to about 1,000 clinics by the end of 2020. Eventually, the company wants to have AI diagnose and treat some minor illnesses.

Sitting said for AI --with the same level of intelligence as a restroom automated soap and water dispenser-- to solve complex healthcare problems, that's more than several years away.

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