In 2011, a computer beat out two of Jeopardy’s greatest champions ever, leaving viewers of the popular game show in a state of utter disbelief. But now, not that many years later, such artificial intelligence or AI, for short, is quickly becoming the new normal and may undermine a host of other pros –even some doctors.

AI in medicine refers to the use of automated processes for gathering and analyzing big data in the hopes of making a diagnosis and treatment plan for patients. It can take many forms.

For example, Amazon teamed up with the UK National Health Service (NHS) to offer health advice through Alexa. Users can now ask Alexa questions such as ‘How do I treat a migraine?’ or ‘What are the symptoms of flu?’ An algorithm will then search the NHS website and spit back MD-approved recommendations. In dermatology, AI is being used to help determine whether a mole is benign or malignant. And at least one study found that AI was more reliable at identifying melanoma than experienced dermatologists. Some specialties will be less affected. Aesthetic medicine involves artistry and customization that defies algorithms.

Calling it AI suggests that it will replace clinical care, which is why a growing number of doctors are now referring to it as Augmented Intelligence (Aul). Aul aims to use technology to supplement and support clinical decision making, not replace it. In other words, it’s about man and machine working together. The American Academy of Dermatology is on board and recently published a position statement supporting the use of Au in practice.

Distinctly human abilities, including empathy, decision making, creativity, and critical thinking will always be the cornerstone of good medical care. Technology will never replace counseling patients about options and tailoring treatment to a patient’s lifestyle.

Still, it’s key to welcome the technology so you can do more of what you love – counsel patients and perform surgeries– and less of what you have grown to dislike such as paperwork and other practice management tasks. Assign a staffer to stay up to date on the promise and perils of AI or AUI so that you don’t miss out.

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