Somewhere between “Not in my Lifetime”, “We’re all Doomed” and “Unicorns and Rainbows” lies a viable strategy.
Tactic 1: Focus on in-person activity. AI will fairly easily replace text, voice and even video consultations, but until there are realistic robots, face-to-face will need humans.
Tactic 2: Be a person who actually cares. People want to be looked after by someone who is genuinely interested in them. It is unlikely that an AI will be allowed to pretend to be human. And in any case, it would probably need to be sentient to manifest the full richness of our feelings.
Tactic 3: Allow yourself to be known. Letting patients see that you have a personal life and share their hopes and dreams makes you more approachable and helps you build relationships with them. An AI would struggle to do this.
Tactic 4: Be part of your community. Embedding yourself in your locality allows you to be known personally but also lets you get involved with people as a group. An AI powered app or website cannot easily develop these kind of relationships.
Tactic 5: Lead your team with humanity. All the relationship advantages of being an actual human apply to leading your team as much as working with patients. An AI is unlikely to inspire loyalty, care and commitment from people who know it is just a machine.
Tactic 6: Use AI but think for yourself. AI gets its ideas from what other people have said and may well know things you do not. However, learning to combine that knowledge with your own judgement and creativity can give you better solutions than AI alone.
Don’t be fooled. Amazon has changed the way that people buy things and AI will change the way that people get their health looked after. AI will replace humans for predictable, routine, mundane tasks.
But, interestingly, the people who should worry most are those offering just text or video based consultations, large impersonal teams or generic services which pride themselves on access, not continuity.
If the patient doesn’t get to know you or see you again, then you are standardised and replaceable. Exactly what AI does best.
But GP Partnerships that focus on personal care with high continuity relationships will have something to offer that an AI will find it hard to duplicate.