On this episode of the Patients Rising podcast, Terry and Bob discuss the future of medicine, specifically how artificial intelligence (AI) promises to revolutionize, personalize, and economize American healthcare. 

The Covid-19 crisis has reminded us again how antiquated U.S. healthcare really is. Consider personal medical records, which are a pain to aggregate from different doctors at separate providers. The lack of easy access to our medical records during hospitalizations can lead to misdiagnoses and mistreatments, especially for the sick and vulnerable who don’t have advocates with them. 

With AI, we can get our personal medical records on our smartphones to share with doctors and caregivers with the push of a button — just like we temporarily share our location on our favorite apps today. Unfortunately, hospital and electronic medical records interests are working to prevent such technology from becoming widespread to maintain their profits. 

Bob interviews Dr. Eric Topol, founder of Scripps Research, author of “Deep Medicine,” and a leading healthcare futurist. Dr. Topol explains how AI can transform medicine. He argues that AI can restore not only the doctor-patient relationship but also improve patient outcomes. 

He argues that AI can improve diagnoses accuracy, reinvent health systems, and improve biomedical research.  “We currently live in a world of shallow medicine,” Dr. Topol explains. “Patients exist in a world of insufficient data, insufficient time, insufficient context, and insufficient presence.” AI can give doctors and patients more time because it can obviate the need for some time-sucking testing and administrative tasks. 

There are more than 10 million medical errors in the U.S. each year as well as significant overtreatment. AI can help narrow the list of probable diagnoses, some of which may not be identified by doctors. It’s currently impossible for practicing doctors to keep up with the advancements in medical literature, yet AI is capable of assimilating and distilling it. 

Dr. Topol argues that there are three components of deep medicine: 1) deep phenotyping — comprehensive defining of each individual, 2) deep learning — pattern recognition and machine learning for diagnosis, and 3) deep empathy — freeing up of tasks suited for automation, so doctors can have more time to focus on their patients. 

Also on this episode, patient correspondent Kate Pecora interviews Jamil Rivers, who has metastatic breast cancer and provides suggestions to reduce racial health disparities. She highlights how black women have disproportionately serious cancer outcomes. She calls for more funding, culturally respectful treatment, and a renewed effort to fight Stage 4 cancer.