Why Doctors Need to Embrace Technology: A Personal Reflection

When I was a practicing medical doctor with many years of clinical experience, I have always been passionate about providing the best possible care to my patients. However, I never imagined that there could be more impactful ways to help patients beyond clinical medicine.

Medic Footprints Malaysia (MFM) recently organized an AI and Machine Learning Bootcamp for Doctors and I was astonished by the new perspectives it offered me. In this blog post, I want to share my reflections on why doctors need to be tech-savvy, innovative, and agile, and embrace technology to push for change.

The Eye-Opening Experience

The Bootcamp, led by Dr. Zuhairi and Dr. Edre, opened my mind to the incredible potential that understanding coding and AI could bring when combined with my clinical experience and medical knowledge. I learned that data is useless unless it is used effectively. The lowest form of data usage is just descriptive, which gives no impact, as it does not change anything. The best kind of data is predictive or prescriptive.

With the vast amount of data available in clinical departments, there are numerous prediction models we can develop. Unfortunately, doctors are often too busy keeping patients alive and completing daily tasks to think outside the box and make an impactful change. I realized that we need to change the way we approach patient care and start harnessing technology to improve outcomes.

Reflection on My Years in the Anaesthesiolgy and ICU Department

During my years in the Anaesthesiology department, I have worked in three separate Intensive Care Units (ICU) across three different hospitals. I have experienced working in ICUs with and without an intensivist, and I can attest to the significant difference it makes.

I recall working in an ICU with the most incredible Intensivist I have ever encountered. At one point in my career, she inspired me to want to become an Intensivist myself. Her dedication and skill contributed significantly to my growth as a doctor in the ICU. She was so adept that she could anticipate and predict patients’ deterioration hours before it happened and develop a plan accordingly.

I remember being oncall with her when she predicted a Dengue patient’s deterioration at least eight hours before it occurred. She provided me with a plan to follow when it happened, and I was prepared. When the patient finally deteriorated, I did not panic because I had the plan in place hours ahead of time. Imagine if we could digitize this Intensivist’s expertise and make it available across Malaysia and the globe- the number of lives we could save would be immense.

This Intensivist made outstanding calls on when to intubate a patient early, how aggressive to be with treatment, and when a patient could be discharged from the ICU. In contrast, in the other two ICUs I worked in, patients often had prolonged stays and dropped dead like flies because the specialists did not know when and how aggressive to be with treatment. In fact, many of the specialists that I have worked with are afraid of being aggressive with treatment.

In one ICU, I remember telling my consultant that we needed to be more aggressive with a patient with Sepsis because of the many small red flags indicating a shift from a compensated to an uncompensated state. The consultant disagreed with my call and said we should just wait. When he said that, I knew the patient would not survive the week. Unfortunately, my prediction came true: the patient decompensated and died a week later. It was only when the patient’s condition worsened that my consultant decided to take action, but by then, it was too late – like chasing a sailing boat.

Had this same patient been in the first ICU, the outcome would have been very different. That Intensivist would have been more aggressive because the patient was young and had a very good prognosis.

Embracing Technology to Enhance Patient Care

Reflecting on my experiences, I am convinced that doctors need to be agile, tech-savvy, and innovative to improve patient care. By embracing technology and thinking differently, we can push for change and revolutionize healthcare. By using AI and machine learning, we can make better predictions, make better informed decisions, and ultimately save more lives.

Imagine if we could create a predictive model to anticipate the deterioration of patients just as that Intensivist did. These models could aid in early intervention, reducing the burden on ICUs, and most importantly, saving lives. With AI, we could analyze patterns and trends in patients’ data to predict the likelihood of Severe Dengue, the requirement for intubation, or when a patient might need Hemodialysis (HD).

The use of AI could also help doctors manage their time more efficiently. While doctors are often swamped with a tremendous amount of work, AI could automate some tasks, freeing up valuable time for physicians to spend more time on patient care.

Moreover, AI and machine learning could support doctors in making more precise diagnoses and treatment plans. By using predictive models, we can anticipate which patients are more likely to deteriorate and take preemptive action. This could also standardize the level of care and decision making for every patient across Malaysia. We doctors will no longer be treating patients based on our preference for treatment but have tools that are backed by data to aid us in making standardized treatment plans.

Conclusion

The future of medicine lies in the fusion of clinical expertise and technological innovation. It’s time for doctors to step out of their comfort zones, embrace technology, and start leveraging it to enhance patient care. As I reflect on my journey, I wish I had known about these possibilities earlier in my career.

Embracing AI and technology doesn’t mean we’re replacing the human touch in medicine; instead, we’re augmenting it. We’re providing physicians with advanced tools to make better decisions, predict outcomes, and ultimately, deliver better care to patients.

The bootcamp was just the beginning of my journey into the world of AI in healthcare. I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead, and I encourage other doctors to embark on this journey as well. The possibilities are truly endless.

I encourage doctors to get your Premium Membership and be part of the tribe that is building disruptive doctors that are innovative, tech-savvy and agile.

Get your premium membership to be part of a movement that redefines a doctor’s role in healthcare. As a premium member you get full free access to our Career Development Mentorship Programme and unlimited CV reviews from our team.

To find out more about non-clinical jobs for doctors in Malaysia check out our job vacancy and find inspiration from medical doctors who’ve made a career change in our case studies. Check out our Premium Membership, and follow our MF Malaysia TwitterTikTokInstagramFacebookSelina’s LinkedInDiscordSpotify and YouTube channel to stay updated on our events, webinars, job vacancies and more.

If you’re thinking of a career transition, do download Dr Selina’s Switching Careers for Doctors eBook here to get you started on your journey.

In this video Dr Selina shares her story of what she did when she was feeling lost and was not sure what else she could do with her career. Watch it here.

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