Rent a Robot: AI Machines Could Dispense Diagnosis and Treatment

There may come a day in the not-too-distant future when a self-driving car rolls to a stop at the curb in front of your house and out steps a robot to make a house call. The robot could be owned by any number of healthcare companies or organizations. Perhaps even a conglomerate that offers Robots as a Service (RaaS).

Whether physical “beings,” like the friendly C-3PO, or artificial intelligence (AI) buried in a computer hard drive, robots will become more entwined with healthcare.

And RaaS will likely be an important part of healthcare.

In RaaS, the end-user company doesn’t own the robot, but much like Software as a Service (SaaS), simply uses it. The robots in RaaS access information in a traditional in a technological sense: The robot, or robots, access cloud-based information to complete tasks.

RaaS is an opportunity for companies to be on the leading edge of robotics and AI without having to invest research dollars, lay out capital for manufacturing or worry about maintenance.

We’re Waiting

Many people are ready to embark on the robot-drives-an-autonomous-car scenario. A recent PwC survey of more than 12,000 people in EMEA found 54% would be willing to replace a real-life physician with a robot. Those in Nigeria were most willing (94%); residents of the UK were the least (39%). And this isn’t simple AI that only has the ability to take orders and impart basic information.

These would be the highly-sophisticated robots we see in movies: “We asked…participants to consider advanced computer technology or robots with AI that had the ability to answer health questions, perform tests, make a diagnosis based on those test and symptoms, and recommend and administer treatment,” according to PwC. People were most willing to work with robots in care management situations, such monitoring a heart condition and recommending related treatments.

The significant development for RaaS, for example, is the ability for a fleet of healthcare robots to access every piece of medical data available. With cloud-access to the patient’s medical record, the robot could understand, for example, past medical treatments, medication allergies and test results.

After arriving at your house and diagnosing the issue, the robot could explore and suggest:
  • novel therapies found in medical journals;
  • evidence-based medicine;
  • holistic, homeopathic treatments; or
  • nearby clinical trials.
From there, the robot could dispense treatment itself, provide a referral to a doctor and, finally, accept a co-pay and submit information to the insurer and the primary-care physician. If the information—medical, financial, insurance—is accessible in the cloud, there’s not much the robot can’t do.

You’ll have to excuse me now, my new doctor is at the door.
 
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