“We are the last physicians that are still performing detailed physical examinations…When we hear someone’s story, we generate a hypothesis…and we test that hypothesis by actually examining the patient. The examination is a critical component of what we do as neurologists and it would be extraordinarily difficult to program a robot to do the types of examinations that we do—which we do with tools that are, essentially, primitive.”

As technology has continued to make exponential gains in its capabilities, the advantages different tech has offered physicians and medicine as a whole have, in turn, allowed for practice-changing advancements. Now, debates have begun to make their way into the field about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the place of the physician for a number of conditions. Although, for neurologists, this may be easier said than done.

At the 2019 American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting, May 4-10, in Philadelphia, there was such a debate as to whether a robot with AI could possibly, in some instance, replace the specialty care provided by neurologists. NeurologyLive sat with Joseph Berger, MD, to discuss the uniqueness within the field of neurology that would make an AI transition in neurology drastically different from several other specializations. He shares examples based on his experiences working with patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Specifically, the associate chief of the MS division and professor of neurology at Penn Medicine spoke to neurologist’s reliance on physical examination, and how the use of almost-rudimentary but longstanding tools—such as reflex hammers, pins, and tuning forks—allow for critical 1-on-1 time with the patient. He noted that over the years, the average time physicians are spending with patients has decreased so drastically that it has prevented that bond with the patient, which Berger noted can importantly offer key insights into their ailments and condition.

For more coverage of AAN 2019, click here.