3/24/2005

Will Robots replace our regular doctors?

A recent article found at, http://biz.yahoo.com/special/hospital05_article2.html, expounds on the idea and actual implementation of robot doctors. A wireless Web link allows the doctor to fire up the robot from anywhere, using a laptop and a joystick to drive it through the hospital.
Does this not sound a little bizarre or even worth ones time of going to the hospital only to see the Doctors face on the screen of a robot? Would it be worth the cost you pay to not have human interaction? According to numerous people who have had experience with the new innovation, before they see it, they're resistant to the idea, but once they see that it's just like communicating with a real person, their opinion changes radically.
Will this change the way our healthcare operates as we now know it? It may save some time and allow the doctors to be more than one place at a time, but is this worth the benefit that is lost from communicating personally-human face to human face?

12 comments:

Diane said...

I think using the robot to check on patients recovering from surgery is fine. The robot also allows doctors to consult with each other without having to travel. Technology such as teleconferencing has allowed doctors to do this for years.

The main problem is that a robot cannot examine a patient. Is a nurse examining the patient instead? Doctors cannot deduce the problem from just hearing a patient's symptoms. If this is the case medicine could be prescribed incorrectly or too frequently.

There is also technology that allows a surgeon to operate on a patient in a different location. This allows surgeons to reach patients in areas too sparsely populated and too poor to afford a resisdent surgeon. Increased use of technology can increase efficiency and cut costs. But it should not be a substitute for human interaction is some cases like patient examination.

Jim said...

Movies today have a way of explaining how a screen writer predicts the future. The movie, "Roberts" protrays the future as being a world full of robotics. I guess Will Smith here we come.

Lana said...

I agree with Diane about not using robots for examinations. I wouldn't want to have to talk to a robot when I'm in pain and don't know what's wrong. And it would be even more frustrating if the robot couldn't understand what kind of pain you were trying to describe to it.

Emily said...

In the end it will all depend on the supply and demand of this service. If people decide they can live with a robot or they like the robot then it will work out and become popular, but if people have too many concerns and reject the robot then it will not work out. Technology is wonderful and it seems like a good idea, but as pointed out in the other comments I am not sure I would feel safe or have the patients with a robot when I was in pain and scared.

Ann said...

I don't think that the saved time is worth the communication lost in most cases. I would much rather have a real doctor performing medical procedures on me than a machine. A machine could break, and you can not communicate with a machine. I think it might be a good idea in some situations, but overall I don't like the idea.

Dr. Tufte said...

-1 for a poorly formatted link in Stockton's post.

I'm quite sure this will work out just fine. A generation ago people were sure that ATM's would fail. More pertinently, think about the amount of class discussion we do through blogging - which is really pretty impersonal.

Ann must have good doctors. The most common complaint of patients about doctors is their poor communications skills.

Keston said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Keston said...

I agree a lot with Emily’s comment that robotic doctors will become more prominent if there is a demand for them. If people are already satisfied with the experience they receive it is likely we will see more of these robots in the future. I also agree that it is another step toward less human interaction. With online banking, shopping, and other services that are offered on the internet, we are becoming a less interactive society. I thought humans were social, so why do we keep inventing ways to get rid of jobs that humans have preformed? I don’t know if I really like the idea, but I guess before long we will know whether this is a success or not.

ron said...

I don't think you will ever see doctors totally replaced by robots. People still have to learn the stuff to program into the robots. I really can't see computer programers doing this alone.

Anonymous said...

i disagree with Ron. All it takes to complete replace doctors is a robot with humanoid limbs with a doctor (retired doctors are more likely to co-operate) and a programmer working together.

Why do we need human interaction with doctors anyway? If you are in pain, it would be much better to have a 5 second analysis and treatment with a AI robot, than a 15 - 30 minute consultation with a doctor. Also computers do not make mistakes. Human doctors do, very frequently. And even more importantly, I'd rather have have all our doctor working in research finding a cure for diseases such as cancer, than doing diagnostics and surgery which is better done by robots.

I can guarantee that Robots will eventually replace all doctors, as well as almost all other non-creative jobs. It just takes some time, that's all.

MEDstudent said...

robot doctors should be used in diagnostics as soon as possible!

MEDstudent said...

i think, that we should start using robots in diagnostics at least in 2018 and believe me, it is possible with enough funding.
From my experience, i can say that it is much more important that more doctors were in basic and clinical research!