Augmented intelligence to boost doctors and patients

A CES 2023 discussion with the chair of the American Medical Association considers the future of digital health and artificial intelligence.
Paul Ratner
High medical technology concept
High medical technology concept


Technology holds much promise in improving our health care. But if we look beyond the hype, which tools actually work?

A spotlight speech during CES 2023, moderated by Carlos Nunez, the Chief Medical Officer of ResMed, presented thoughts on digital health care from Bobby Mukkamala, the Immediate Past Chair of the American Medical Association (AMA)- a 175-year-old physicians’ organization. That is, the larges and most influential such group in the United States. 

The work of the AMA focuses on improving public health, helping physicians with patient care. The talk, titled “AI, Digital Health and the Future of Patient Care,“ presented the vision of the AMA for the future of medicine and medical education. 

According to Mukkamala, advancing digital health could achieve better patient outcomes, lower costs, and add to the well-being of clinicians.

Advancing virtual healthcare

To achieve this, the new technology that’s developed needs to focus on at least one of the goals among five listed by Mukkamala: centered on patients, better connectivity, “seamless data exchange,” getting real-time information at the point of care, and leveraging the expertise of the physicians.  

In his presentation, Mukkamala shared that the area which currently drives the enthusiasm of physicians for digital technology to be 'tele-visits.'

To further expand upon this, in 2017, the AMA founded Health2047, a Silicon Valley-based development company that looks to use the experience of physicians in the design and commercialization of novel health care tech. Partnerships with companies that potentially alter diagnostic technologies for diseases like pre-diabetes and obesity is one area of focus.

Augmenting doctor intelligence

The AMA is also concentrated on harnessing the potential power of Artificial Intelligence (AI)- making sure physicians have a say in the design and development of such technologies while building trust for their utilization both among the doctors and the patients.

Behind this stands on the belief that AI can improve health result for patients. Surveys conducted by AMA show that AI or “augmented intelligence,” as it’s called by the organization, is currently practiced by about one in five physicians. Additionally, three out of five are excited about the adoption of this technology in the future.

In the discussion with Carlos Nunez that followed the presentation, Mukkamala commented on barriers to adoption of technology.

One example he gave related to his wife’s practice which focused on the inefficient transmission of data. He shared that his wife may be doing advanced robotic surgery, then faxing results to the primary care doctor within the same hour. To Mukkamala this is like being Fred Flintstone and George Jetson at the same time.

When questioned about the most exciting and promising emerging technology, Mukkamala stated that artificial intelligence (AI) could truly support doctors and make them "less fallible." This could serve as most value during times of stress and weariness, which are so frequent in the medical field.

In support of this position, Nunez pointed out that we are seeing more and more data being collected at the patient’s regular life, which could be very important in the future of health care.

This data could be crucial in providing physicians with information that could lead to better health for people, augmenting the intelligence of the doctor. Still, many questions exist in who should own the data and how it should be transmitted. 

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