Ahead of Intelligent Health UK 2020, we interviewed a pioneer of revolutionary new clinical software. TPP Founder & CEO, Frank Hester OBE discussed AI in healthcare ahead of his headline presentation: Maximising our digital infrastructure for a 21st-century workforce.
Q: What excites you most about the application of AI in healthcare?
What excites me most about the potential of AI in healthcare is the same as the excitement I have about the application of all types of technology. No matter where I go in the world I never hear people saying they have ‘too many doctors or nurses’.
Our medical professionals across the world are stretched, and technology can alleviate some of this burden; AI for healthcare is just the latest example of this. All of the hype is currently about AI, but I do believe it will make a big difference to healthcare. If we get it right, it could be viewed as the antibiotic or the x-ray of this generation.
Q: What’s your biggest fear about the application of AI in health/medicine?
My biggest fear regarding AI in medicine is that it is seen as a panacea that will solve all of our problems. Unless it is implemented in a way which complements our existing healthcare systems, it will just be a fad technology that has minimal impact. Healthcare AI will be successful when it is implemented at a touchpoint of the healthcare system. Also, another fear I have is that we don't strike the right balance between innovation and patient safety. That’s something I don’t think any of us can afford to get wrong.
Q: How do you think AI will make its biggest mark in healthcare in the next 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
Well, I think it is clear to see that the way radiology works is being, and will continue to be, positively disrupted. The work in imaging is startling and I think we can all see the way we are going there. However, I think this most radical change that AI can make is to ‘upskill’ the existing workforce across the planet. In places without highly trained primary care clinicians, AI can amplify the voices of healthcare workers and deliver better care for their patients. Here in the UK, we are seeing changes in the primary care workforce. GP numbers have been falling, whilst physiotherapy and pharmacy numbers have been increasing. AI-powered advanced decision support could help integrate their crucial roles in the future of primary care delivery.
Q: How do you think AI will change human contact in healthcare?
There will always be human contact in healthcare, of course, but we are seeing more virtual or remote contact. Smart devices and wearables can reduce the need for regular check-ups and I think we will see more and more use of video technology for appointments. AI will only increase this trend through smarter triage algorithms and intelligent diagnostic support.
Q: What does AI mean for the skill requirements of healthcare professionals? How will it change?
As I said, the greatest potential impact of AI in healthcare is to augment the knowledge already in clinicians heads. Someone recently put it much better than me; “Machines will not replace physicians, but physicians using AI will soon replace those not using it.”
Q: Which 2 people do you admire most in the world of AI?
In recent years, I have admired Andrew Ng, especially the work he has been doing with applications of AI in healthcare. I’ve learnt a lot from studying Andrew’s work. I first studied AI as part of my computer science degree at University. Around that time, Geoffrey Hinton was laying the foundations for modern neural networks and I have enormous admiration for how his work has now revolutionised the field of AI.
GLOBAL AI EVENTS CALENDAR
Here is your Global AI Events Calendar where you can meet the Inspired Minds community of business leaders, heads of government, policy makers, startups, investors, academics and media.
WORLD SUMMIT AI AMERICAS
March 25-26th 2020
Palais des congrès de Montréal
09-10 September 2020
WORLD SUMMIT AI
07-08 October 2020
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
WORLD AI WEEK
05-09 October 2020
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
INTELLIGENT HEALTH UK
2 & 3 February 2021