Just this week we heard the amazing story of the two-year-old conjoined twins Safa and Marwa Ullah from Pakistan, craniopagus twins, with their skulls and blood vessels fused together. Specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital managed to separate the twins using virtual reality as a tool to visualize the complex structure of their brains, which helped guide the surgeons towards the fantastic achievement of giving each little girl a new and independent life.
From a good news story to something more challenging – radiologists could find themselves fighting for their jobs if predictions on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) are accurate. AI models are constantly ‘learning and training’, and are getting to the stage where they are capable enough to detect abnormalities in wrist and finger radiographs faster and more accurately than radiologists. This looks likely to result in the role of the radiologist evolving over the coming years along with changes to their training syllabus as AI models become adept at assisting them in their work.
Technology is also on the brink of increasing our understanding of the human condition itself. Once we have addressed security concerns and can be confident that privacy and confidentiality of patient information is guaranteed, just imagine how by crunching big data from patient records and self-monitoring devices, machines can learn and provide guidance in our management of many health conditions. Consider for a moment how many X-rays a doctor will see in his working life. A machine could absorb and analyse these data in minutes and draw conclusions that will support positive changes in clinical pathways that would otherwise take decades to re-route.
Of course, we’re skimming the surface here with some recent news stories, but will continue to review new advances and report back.