The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Medical Professionalism
1TBD, Korea University, Republic of Korea
With the fourth industrial revolution already well underway, the medical field is beginning to see the potential impact of technology. Some predicted that doctor jobs would diminish by up to 70%, with many aspects of care being delivered by new technologies without direct human services or contact. Actual clinical applications of this new wave of technology, however, are not quite yet visible. The healthcare industry actually appears to be in transition from the third industrial revolution, in which aging and health equity were the major themes.
In recent times with increasing life expectancies, aging, combined with multiple comorbidities, is an issue that is proving ever more challenging. Aided by deep learning and big data, artificial intelligence is without a doubt making tremendous strides in diagnostic accuracy, but the new class of elderly citizens of the world with complex underlying pathologies are requiring even more intricate, integrated levels of care. Whether artificial intelligence is capable of delivering such care remains to be seen.
The key themes of the fourth industrial revolution appear to be “integration,” and “convergence,” both in education and in research. In fact, the World Health Organization is now promoting “people-centered integrated health services,” which stress the importance of the experience of patient as a human subject. There is, however, still a discrepancy between the integration that the industrial revolution is capable of bringing, and the integration in healthcare that is actually required.
Inevitably, the march of technological progress in medicine heads towards inhumane mechanical efficiency. It is worth noting that as medicine becomes more advanced, life expectancy increases as well, but with longer life expectancy comes a greater need for human contact and humanely-delivered aspects of care. The fourth industrial revolution and the advanced technology that it subsequently delivers will require physicians to maintain their focus on the humanistic aspects of professionalism and care more than ever before.