Doctors should take lead in use of medical AI

Choi Gwang-seok  Published 2019.11.08  20:27  Updated 2019.11.08 20:27


- ‘Only physicians can understand and utilize medical data,’ expert says
The Korea Doctors Weekly hold symposium at Sheraton Palace Hotel Friday

Amid the mounting interests in and the use of artificial intelligence and big data with the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an expert advised that doctors should take the initiative in developing medical AI.

Choi Byung-wook, vice chairman of the Korean Society of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (KoSAIM), made these and other points at a leadership symposium titled “AI in Healthcare ‘Present and Future.’” The workshop was organized by The Korea Doctors Weekly, the sister paper of Korea Biomedical Review, and sponsored by Korea Health Industry Development Institute, National Academy of Medicine of Korea (NAMOK), and KoSAIM. Philips Korea, Vuno and Lunit were corporate sponsors.

Choi Byung-wook, vice chairman of Korea Society of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, speaks at the “Leadership Symposium: AI in Healthcare “Present & Future,” held at Sheraton Seoul Palace Hotel on Friday. The Korean Doctors Weekly organized the symposium, which was sponsored by the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, Korea Society of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, and the National Academy of Medicine of Korea. Philips Korea, Vuno and Lunit also provided support from the corporate community.

“Currently, our society’s interests in AI are enormous,” Choi said. “President Moon Jae-in has mentioned it, and global business leaders talk about it. A lot of money is being invested in this area, and many talented people are tackling the sector. Like it or not, we cannot help but move in this direction.”

Choi went on to say, “Doctors, who have been in overall charge of healthcare, should take the lead in medical AI, which is also the desirable way of doing things. Nevertheless, many physicians are feeling the confusion of values. They seem to worry about stability and other issues.”

Choi said he believes doctors should play a more active role in developing medical AI.
“Doctors have various roles and responsibilities in developing medical AI,” he said. “Above all, they should play the role of data scientists. To provide meaning for data and make the most of them, one should first understand such data. Only doctors can do that.”

Noting that Korea is turning out AI-related software following the lead of the United States, Choi expressed disappointment with their use. “An only tiny portion of such software is being used in medical fields. This is because their quality is not perfect, and unexpected things happen in the course of using them.”

The KoSAIM vice president stressed the positive aspect, however, saying, “You should not think ‘medical AI has too many disadvantages’ but ‘it has huge potentials.’ Someone should develop and supplement it further, and people who can do it are doctors.”

Recalling that KoSAIM was established to accomplish medical renovation and maximize medical value by making the most of AI, Choi said in conclusion, “It may sound like a corporate slogan, but these are the missions assigned to doctors in this era of AI. I hope many physicians will join in these endeavors.”

Lim Tae-hwan, chairman of the National Academy of Medicine of Korea, also expressed views that experts should play their role in determining the future direction of medical AI.
“The growth of AI goes far beyond the level of developing medical equipment, such as CT and MRI,” Lim said. “It is the beginning of attempts to change the entire world.”

Noting that he sometimes has the feeling of AI spreading to the whole society even before people recognize it, Lim said, “We should be extremely alert not to let it go its own way. People with knowledge and understanding should control its direction to make it proceed efficiently. Most important is to lead the medical AI in ways to contribute to humankind’s health.”

“Japan established a society for medical AI, almost at the same time as we did,” Lim said. “We are also moving rapidly. If the government’s support and social response harmonize, Korea will be able to go ahead of Japan.”

Government agencies also expressed their position to move positively for developing medical AI and big data.

“AI and big data are changing the paradigm of the healthcare industry in this era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Kwon Deok-chul, director of the Korea Health Industry Development Institute. “It is receiving spotlight as new technology that will change the future of medicine.”

Noting that the government and businesses are expanding investment competitively, Kwon said, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution Committee is in operation under the direct jurisdiction of the President, and a special panel for digital healthcare is exclusively handling this issue.”

Kwon went on to say, “The government is pushing for the interagency project to develop the technology through the fusion of AI, bio and robot, tearing down walls between agencies as well as supporting creative fusion research. My institute is also striving hard for the smooth progress of the new project.”

The National Assembly also vowed to provide active support for the development of medicine through AI.

“I hope the collaboration of AI and medical technology will bring about great accomplishments for public health,” Rep. Oh Je-se of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea said. “The parliament will also actively support the development of medical technology through AI.

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