Some call it the 4th industrial revolution, the advances in robotics and AI (artificial intelligence). Some fear it and some welcome it as a new golden age. But what of VR (virtual reality)? Is that not also something that is pushing boundaries?

Then of course we have the cryptographic revolution, it’s enthusiasts hoping that it can restructure how we do things from the ground up. DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology, such as blockchain) is this disruptive technology, a more secure alternative to centralised servers and record keeping. Without going into an explanation in-depth, it puts you in control of your data, whatever that data is. This could be digital currencies, medical records or personally identifiable information.

Today, you can consult a doctor via video link. The doctor can prescribe medication, refer you to a specialist, write a sick note, and order tests. In the UK there are several companies offering video consultations.

Babylon Health is using a simplified AI for triage help and has secured £50 million in investments to create a medical AI to help doctors diagnose presented symptoms. You can get an appointment with an NHS doctor 27/7 at about 4 seconds notice (so they say). Their triage app will answer questions and guide you to the best treatment.

Your MD uses a full AI to diagnose symptoms as well as an ever-growing database of articles from which the AI can pull information.

Push Doctor. One of their main claims and selling points is that you can see a doctor within four minutes. The consultation is done via a secure video link. They too can prescribe medication, refer you to a specialist, and write a sick note.

IBM’s Watson supercomputer is diagnosing cancer with greater accuracy than oncologists and discovering new treatments, according to IBM. As with anything new, early adopters will like it while others feel it’s over-hyped. Stat News echoes this sentiment. Others say it has saved lives by diagnosing correctly where doctors have stumbled.

What everyone seems to agree on though is that AI in healthcare is here to stay.

Where does VR come into all this? Nvidia’s AI has started creating human faces from a huge pool of celebrity photos. It struck me that if an AI can create artificial faces that can’t be distinguished from real faces, VR as a way to provide consultations with an AI medical system would be on the cards.

Let’s take a walk on the wild side and imagine what three disruptive technologies could do and whether we’d like it or loathe it.

We can now enter a virtual world and go to our doctors office. Because our Doc is an AI, we can see him/her whenever we want as AI is the master at multitasking. If we have all our medical records on a secure blockchain DApp, then we can allow our doctor to see them when we’re in front of him/her (we could also choose to see a male or female avatar).

Dr. AI now has access to all our medical records including test results, scheduled treatments etc. We present our symptoms and, with the aid of our smartphone, we can test our blood, urine and saliva. We can already take our blood pressure, check our pulse and measure our blood oxygen levels on our smartphone.

All from the comfort of our own home or anywhere else. Dr. AI has the ability to refer to thousands of pieces of medical literature, some of which are so ‘hot off the press’ a human GP wouldn’t even know of its existence.

Each consultation with Dr. AI teaches it more about us personally. With DNS testing and microbiome testing it can have the most complete picture of our individual health. This means that instead of taking a bit of a ‘hit and miss’ approach to prescribing as GPs do today (because they have to give you the medication that works for ‘most’ people) Dr. AI can tailor your medication to you as an individual.

This saves money, saves time, and it’s not too far a stretch to say it also saves lives. VR comes in because some of us like to ‘chat’ with our medicos, often, it’s the only time someone takes an interest in us. So a VR avatar, powered by an AI will interact just as the best of doctors do, never impatient and able to remember our conversations, thereby making us feel valued. Which in this day and age may be the most important thing of all.

 

Image via AdobeStock

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