Sunday, November 9, 2014

Do Robots Make The Perfect Health Care Provider?

Did Disney animators create the perfect health care provider? In the movie "Big Hero 6", a big huggable robot named Baymax was created by his inventor to help diagnose and treat whatever human ailments he finds.

He has all the qualities that many people say doctors and nurses should have but are usually lacking. He comes running as soon as he hears sounds of distress, like "ouch". He always has his patient's best interests at heart, refusing to leave until the sufferer has acknowledged his improved status. He possesses an infinitely vast wealth of medical knowledge. He is nonjudgemental. He doesn't ask for money. And the best part, with a quick change in programming, Baymax can become a kick ass, karate chopping, villain foiling, flying superhero. Wouldn't it be cool if doctors could do all that?

Some people would say that medical personnel in this country are almost like robots already but not in a good way. We increasingly rely on algorithms to manage our patients instead of using our judgement, or the art of medicine. Who reads textbooks anymore when we simply download the latest medical information on our smartphones from sites like Google and Up-To-Date? And many patients complain that doctors are so harried by their overbooked schedules that they show the same empathy as humanoids.

So perhaps this movie is just a sign of the frustrations that people have with their current providers. This fantasy is what many people wished their doctors should be but aren't. Maybe there is a take home lesson in this film if we are willing to accept our own shortcomings.

By the way, the movie is awesome. Disney did not pay me to shill for them, but I wouldn't mind it if they did. Hello Robert Iger?

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