AI, Big Data and the medical humanities
WCM-Q professor of English Dr. Alan S. Weber has contributed to a report on ways medical humanities training can prepare physicians for the era of AI, Big Data genomics and personalized medicine.
The report was generated through an advisory meeting of the Association of Academic Health Centers International (AAHCI) held at the American University of Beirut in late September, at which delegates considered ways to use the medical humanities to prepare medical students for a rapidly changing environment in which disruptive technologies are likely to alter physicians’ roles and their relationships with patients.
The advisory meeting was co-sponsored by Cleveland Clinic, Columbia University, and the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), which recently became the host for the AAHCI Middle East and North Africa Regional Office. The findings and recommendations of the report generated by the advisory meeting will be presented to the AAHCI’s parent organization, the Association of Academic Health Centers (AAHC), at the organization’s Annual Meeting in Chicago in October, 2018.
According to the two main organizers of the regional meeting, Dr. Kamal F. Badr, associate dean for medical education of AUB, and Mohamed H. Sayegh, executive vice president of AUB, the event was designed to address: “The impending impact of Artificial Intelligence on healthcare delivery [which] will lead to radical revisions of the entire edifice of medical education, starting with the undergraduate curriculum and extending to graduate medical education. In this new era, diagnostic accuracy and therapeutic options will be more reliably provided by machines, re-focusing the role of the physician on the personalized approach to patient care, and on the professional, humane, and social determinants of illness.”
They added: “The physicians of tomorrow must master new technologies and acquire a significantly deeper knowledge of medical humanities, narrative medicine, precision medicine, and medical genetics. This will necessitate new offerings in the undergraduate and MD curricula, and will redefine the profile of medical school applicants. These changes will also present a major challenge to the teaching faculty at all academic health centers, and to how schools of medicine will work symbiotically with the medical centers which serve as their teaching institutions.”
Dr. Weber additionally served on a panel of medical education experts in a session entitled ‘Pre-Medical Requirements in Medical Humanities: Profile of the New Medical-School Applicant.’ Dr. Weber also gave a talk, entitled ‘Longitudinal Humanities in Premedical and Medical Education Curricula: Humane Doctors from Cradle to Grave’, in which he reviewed successful humanities programs at the premedical level, including WCM-Q’s innovative initiatives, and argued for integrated, longitudinal humanities training in ethics, communications, cultural sensitivity, provider-patient relations and social determinants of health throughout a physician’s entire training period and into professional practice.
Dr. Weber said: “Artificially Intelligent autonomous machines with access to Big Data datasets will soon surpass humans in many arenas related to logical decision-making, such as differential diagnosis and pathological tissue image-processing (radiology). The time is ripe to re-imagine the role of the physician as an interface between machine tasks and higher level cognitive processing, as well as emotive and affective behaviors.”
He added: “Distinctly human skills such as empathy, creativity, natural language communication, imagination, and advanced critical and analytical thinking should be emphasized more strongly in future educational paradigms as machines take over the routine tasks of medicine.”