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Are you considering whether artificial intelligence (AI) is coming to your practice and how it might fit in?

Opinion
Article
Urology Times JournalVol 51 No 08
Volume 51
Issue 08

“We haven’t added AI to our practice yet. Personally, I’ve looked at it for other businesses I’m involved in, but not for our practice. Obviously, there’s a lot of discussion about getting data on a platform AI can sift through and recommend issues to discuss with specific patients, but we haven’t done anything like prefilling nodes with AI.

AI’s a double-edged sword, like all technology. Potentially, if AI learned a conversation you had often, you could cue that for patient notes, and save time. For medical records [issues], I’m worried that given that’s part of the chart—direct patient interactions—that would certainly make me a bit nervous.

It would be outstanding for patients waiting to make an appointment. AI could ask the reason. If the patient has kidney stones, AI could determine whether there was an acute patient spot in 2 days. If they want to talk about incontinence, AI could determine whether a nonacute slot was available in 2 weeks. For medical decision-making, billing decisions, and things like that, however, I worry about AI. I don’t mind [AI] looking over my shoulder. I wouldn’t mind it double-checking and noticing something I hadn’t done. At the same time, consider the balance. I don’t need another administrative burden. If AI is just going to generate more, possibly unnecessary, tests, it could add to the workload and increase health care costs. Obviously, though, if it decreased the administrative burden and gave patients better and safer outcomes, who wouldn’t want that?

We’re a 5-man group; we’ll probably let the big health care systems figure it out first. When EMRs [electronic medical records] are updated, AI will undoubtedly be part of the package.”

Andrew Franklin, MD

Asheville, North Carolina

Ahmed Alkaram, MD

Ahmed Alkaram, MD

“We’ve been using AI one way or another since the first-time smart assistants, like Siri and Google, came out on our telephones and computers. They accelerate our access to knowledge, and we need that.

AI is a supersmart version of those, not something totally new: the smart assistant that has been enhanced to understand things better.

There’s no way AI can replace a human being at any discipline, whether it’s medicine or anything else, for 2 simple reasons—one related to the other. AI lacks conscience and it lacks emotions. You need those 2 things to make medical decisions. We want patients’ emotions and conscience to be actively involved in therapy plans.

AI will be a good, efficient, quick, smart assistant in getting access to knowledge, but the part where we convey that knowledge mixed with emotions—mixed with an understanding of the patient’s intellect and emotional well-being—that part can never be replaced by artificial intelligence.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we could talk to a patient while simultaneously having an AI assistant standing by, to ask them the chances of the cancer spreading or the survival rate, the [adverse] effects. And based on smart internet research, AI will have the answer.

It might also assist in diagnoses—not in the sense of analyzing or understanding [laboratory results] or images better than we do, but because of the efficiency of its research and the ability to go through huge databases in milliseconds. This will give us more tools to better diagnose.

So, AI might be able to better flag abnormal findings and the interpretation of findings regarding a specific patient, but only the doctor and patient can decide how clinically significant the abnormality is.”

Ahmed Alkaram, MD

Altoona, Pennsylvania

“I’m not involved with artificial intelligence yet, but there are areas where it may certainly be beneficial. In general, I don’t see AI being involved with taking care of patients. It could be great for research, but I don’t think dealing with patients is going to be feasible. I really don’t. There are too many variables when you’re talking to a patient from day to day.

AI might be able to assess some things more completely, like some [laboratory results] and other tests. From that standpoint, artificial intelligence could be beneficial.

I think things like scheduling, taking phone calls to some degree if it were programmed properly to pick up emergency things, and I think it would be—I think that would be OK.

We always must be open to the potential of new technology. Urology has always been interested in advancements, so that will be fine. [We all] need to be open to progress. Certainly, I’ll be looking forward to what’s coming along and how it can be useful.”

Arthur Tijerina, MD

Paris, Texas

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