Machine Learning and the Profession of Medicine

This article asks the question must the physician( or any medical professional for that matter) be human? The Institute for Creative Technologies developed a new computer they named “Ellie” that is able to analyze patient facial expressions and vocal tones, intonations and responses. Through this analysis it was even able to detect signs of PTSD. In the study, a group of 239 patients were told that “Ellie” was either controlled by a person or operating autonomously. It was actually found that the latter option produced more personal and intimate responses to the computer program.

The article then talks about how technology needs to continue to develop within the walls of technology. It discusses how the electronic medical record is just starting to be embraced but this should for no reason be the end of what they refer to as a “digital revolution.” It is believed that technology has tremendous potential and practical implementation in the practice of patient care.

How do you feel about the use of technology as a means to patient care? Does it make the medical professional obsolete and no longer necessary? Why have a human surgeon when you can have a computer operate on you? How will this kind of technology impact the field of pharmacy? Why will their still be a need for pharmacists if a computer can provide MTM services to patients? Will patients trust a computer to provide information to them….what about in subsequent generations?


Darcy AM, Louie AK, Roberts L. Machine Learning and the Profession of Medicine.JAMA. 2016;315(6):551-552. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.18421.

2 thoughts on “Machine Learning and the Profession of Medicine”

  1. This is a neat article that makes you think a little bit. I am fascinated by how far technology has taken us, but I don’t know if I would like to be taken care of by non-human health care professionals. An important aspect of care is emotional support and a human connection, and replacing practitioners with machines takes away the ability of a clinician to make an impact on a patient’s attitude. Is the robot able to utilize motivational interviewing techniques? Something to think about.

  2. The article poses an interesting question considering that we are currently living the intersection between man and machine that our predecessors always dreamed of. Even though there are some really great benefits to using technology to improve health care, I think that it’s important to approach our reliance on computer programs with caution. Considering how quickly technology has improved in the past two decades, one of the issues we have to keep in mind if we want to use technology is whether all health professionals can consistently stay current with new improvements. I suppose I would compare it to how the elderly population has more difficulty than younger generations in adapting to the new digital revolution; similarly, will today’s young professionals be stumped in a few years time by the technology that is to come?

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