Technology will never replace health professionals

October 8, 2018

DUBAI: The expertise and humane-ness of medical and health professionals are irreplaceable. Yet, everyone in the healthcare sector must constantly update regulations as they should continually abreast their capabilities in order to cope with the swift-changing technological advancements.

Moreover, trust must be instilled between doctors and patients amidst the burgeoning innovations.

Federation of State Medical Boards (USA) president/chief executive officer and Internal Medicine specialist Dr Humayun Chaudhry and University College London Hospitals consultant anaesthetist/astrophysicist Dr Kevin Fong gave these viewpoints with The Gulf Today on Sunday.

Fong’s lecture on “Regulation in the Age of Acceleration” preceded the opening ceremonies of the “13th International Conference on Medical Regulation” (IAMRA) and the “3rd Dubai Health Regulation Conference 2018 (DHRC)” at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The twin gatherings with scientific sessions until Oct. 9 are under the patronage of Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance and Dubai Health Authority (DHA) president Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The theme is “Empowering Regulation with Innovation and Evidence.”

DHA director general Humaid Mohammed Al Qatami addressed the over 700 delegates from 43 countries: “Regulation plays a major role in the healthcare industry.

“Healthcare regulations and standards are necessary to ensure compliance and to provide safe healthcare to every individual who accesses the system.”

IAMRA chairperson Chaudhry told The Gulf Today the Dubai hosting of the 13th edition is most appropriate considering the expanding healthcare modernisation taking place in the emirate.

He related doctors’ accountability and patients’ safety to the need for medical regulators from all over the world to constantly meet up and come together for scientific sessions because technology gets better.

Chaudhry, 27 years as a medical practitioner in Washington, D.C. with government responsibilities, said patients should not totally rely on technology or with “Dr. Google” because not everything on the Internet is guaranteed accurate, when asked about this practice.

He distinguished the doctors of the past from the doctors of the future who should be “smart doctors.”

Chaudhry explained, “Older doctors have more expertise and more experience. They know more. The doctors of the past are also expected to be knowledgeable; that they know everything. But it is impossible for the mind to know everything. The mind does not work that way. So the doctors of the future should also be smart. They should know how to access tools and information through the (burgeoning) technology.”

On the regulations for the elderly doctors who may have been going through physical and mental lapses but colleagues do not want to offend, psychiatrist Dr. Barbara Schneidman was scheduled to deliver “The Late Career Physician: Possibilities, Perils and the Role of Regulatory Authorities” on Sunday afternoon.

Interviewed, Fong, who claimed his being an astrophysicist has given him another way of approach to Medicine, said: “Technology is neutral. It is neither good nor bad. It is how we use it. We should be responsible in using it.”

He cited errors committed in the past as a result of advancing technology namely antibiotics, vaccinations, the double helix of the DNA, and a research conducted in the USA many years ago regarding syphilis that went awry.

Fong said the rapid advancements in technology and the possible mistakes would be avoided is and when everyone always thinks of what is beneficial for others, particularly the patients.

Fong, fascinated with aerospace, aviation and the sciences as a child as his Chinese emigrant parents to the UK had influenced him, termed that as “patient engagement.”