Open your mind without leaving your sofaBMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1715 (Published 06 July 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1715
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"Ideology has shaped the very sofa on which I sit." Mason Cooley
COVID 19 appears to have brought with it a cultural change. The lockdown has brought with it different ways of living and being. Work From Home, Home Entertainment, Home Shopping and Staycations have come to be the norm. You start the day on the sofa having slept the night on it as you had to watch that programme on TV since you worked the whole day just time enough to order a pizza meal deal of the day and now had to catch up on the crucial happenings on Love Island. Thus the humble sofa has become the seat of your life. Of course there is man's best friend with you always. No, it's not your Ceaser, but it is also your philosopher and guide. Yes, it's your smart phone of course, dummy! Welcome to the cultural revolution and the dawn of the sofa civilization. Sofa' so good?
Indeed technology has come to be used like never before. More so within healthcare where remote clinical consultation has become the main stay. The ease and versatility of IT, automation and internet communication has revolutionised how healthcare is delivered across the globe. Now we hear about big data, machine learning and the biggie, artificial intelligence or AI. No doubt when we consider all this as an extension of the human processing and analytical faculty we stand to gain greatly in terms of accuracy, efficiency and capacity in diagnosing, managing and delivering superior healthcare. It gives us great power but with it comes great responsibility. Are we ready? Are we civilised enough to wield this? Is our sofa civilization ready for it?
AI is a cognitive construct - machine learning. Can it feel and relate? These are human characteristics of Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence. And what about Moral Intelligence? A machine can only be as good as its maker. A tool is only as good as its user. Care can only be as good as the carer. Can compassion have an algorithm or code? I am not sure. For us healthcare professionals caring with compassion for the community should remain at the heart of embracing cutting-edge technology for building a culture of health "broadly defined as one in which good health and well-being flourish across geographic, demographic, and social sectors; fostering healthy equitable communities guides public and private decision making; and everyone has the opportunity to make choices that lead to healthy lifestyles." RWJ Foundation. Can we choose?
“The art of medicine is to cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always.” Ambroise Paré, physician to King François I
1. Monaghesh, E., Hajizadeh, A. The role of telehealth during COVID-19 outbreak: a systematic review based on current evidence. BMC Public Health 20, 1193 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-09301-4
2. L. Plough: Building a Culture of Health: A Critical Role for Public Health Services and Systems Research, Am J Public Health. 2015 October; 105(10): e11.
3. Rajiv Malhotra: Artificial Intelligence and TheFuture of Power, Repro Books Limited, 2021
Competing interests: No competing interests