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During a conversation with a friend last week I had a hare-brained thought – not rare, as friends know, but this one was thought-provoking. So, patients and providers and everyone else, let’s talk about this:

If diagnosis magically became automated – if some super-test could suddenly identify exactly what your condition is – what are the other skills that would keep clinicians employed?

I know it’s a long list because I’ve spent plenty of hours with providers, I love ’em, and hardly EVER has it been for one of them to say “Dude, you’ve got X.”

So, patients: what skills do you appreciate, or do you wish you had more of?  And providers – can you help by listing the things you do?

For this exercise I don’t mean bureaucracy – filling out forms etc. I mean the stuff you were trained to do in medical school.

I’ll start with a few:

  • Knowing the treatment options
  • Prescribing, including leading us through the options
  • Caring (in all its forms).
  • Detecting when the robot’s diagnosis is wrong
  • Refining the diagnosis – subtypes, whatever
  • Follow-up / monitoring status

I know med school & nursing school included a lot more than that :) … please leave a comment to make the list grow.

(I hope it’s obvious that I have no covert agenda here – this all came up when someone said “Will IBM Watson do diagnosis?” and I said no, IBM will only let it dish up information, not “play doctor.” But it raised the question, what if diagnosis did have an automated perfect answer?)


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