Health Industry not immune from AI

The ViVE health tech conference was held in South Florida this week, with some clear themes emerging. All the worrisome things like privacy, intimacy, database diagnostics, venture capital investments and automated insurance-diagnostics-limited-options all were on the table. Oh, by the way, meet your new floor nurse (on the left conversing with a physician). Warm, caring, compassionate human nurses will be missed.

Mariner visited a sick friend today and barely could climb through cables, monitors, banks of wall plugs and the patient‘s arm loaded with tubes and monitors. The only visitors to the room were a social worker and nurses who tended sheets and cleanup generally.  Mariner felt like he was in the switch room in Matrix – with Big Brother watching through squinty backlit eyes.

The automated nurse will roll into the room. Through electronic receivers, (she?) will read all the stuff running in the room, the demeanor of the patient, turn around and roll out. While it wasn’t clear in the description, it is likely the nurse also can automatically modify doses and other treatments. One must make a choice whether to trust more a robot using database generalizations for treatment, or a human doctor influenced by unusual circumstances or moral convictions.

But on to the big picture: the confrontation between medical automation, the fractured perception of benefits for a job world that is dramatically changing, the vagaries of capitalism, and elected governments with their heads where the Sun don’t shine.

Just to assure the reader that there WILL be change, the Republicans are pushing two bills that would eliminate Social Security and Medicare. This in a world where a relative of mariner’s broke their ankle and was billed $40,000 and a world where mariner was offered a prescription for $10,000 per month. The Republicans are attempting to remove government cost from a runaway capital gains medical system but don’t care if the cost wipes out financial security for anyone unlucky enough to need medical care.

As abstruse as it may seem, our governments should look at ways to disassociate medical benefits from salary/age altogether. It’s another post to discuss that Presidential candidate Andrew Yang advocated a $1,000 dole to every citizen but there is an imminent shift coming to the US workforce because of artificial intelligence and a significant benefit at risk is healthcare.

As usual, mariner is quick to provide a metaphor.

The metaphor is about how customers tip restaurant waiters and waitresses. If a waiter works in a restaurant similar to Denny’s, breakfast may cost as little as $5.00. If the waiter receives a 20 percent tip, it amounts to $1.00. If the waiter works the lunch shift, the meal may cost $9.00 so a 20 percent tip would be $1.80 – for the same amount of work and skill. If the waiter works the dinner shift, dinner may cost $14.00 so the 20 percent tip would come to $2.80 – for the same amount of work and skill.

Consider the tip to be a healthcare benefit. If one is lucky enough to have better insurance, the fears of health liability are less worrisome. However, metaphorically speaking the vast majority of folks serve breakfast and face devastating circumstances from illness or assisted living.

As it turns out, artificial intelligence will move hundreds of thousands of folks into breakfast tip amounts and therefore healthcare is a much larger, much more moral issue than it is today.

The fat cats wanting to invest at the Florida conference would not like to have standardized healthcare costs – like Social Security and Medicare.

Incidentally, both mariner’s children worked in restaurants. They told mariner never to tip less than $5.00. It has something to do with awarding dignity.

Ancient Mariner

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