Medical robots will never replace human interaction

Illustration by Trevor Moore

Imagine a future in which the medical field is filled with machines that do everything, kind of like Baymax from “Big Hero 6.”

They comfort the sick and injured while finding a vein for bloodwork without a single issue. Then they administer the cure for the common cold, and everyone goes home healthy.

Sounds great, right?

To me, it sounds like a nightmare.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for there being zero human error in the medical field.

I probably wouldn’t be scared of needles because I would’ve never had my vein blown during a blood draw by an incompetent nurse.

But robots will never replace human doctors.

New vein-mapping technology has been developed, and there’s a robot that helps to diminish fear and pain in children who visit the doctor’s office.

That’s great. Again, blown vein, fear of needles, etc.

But can robots reassure someone who has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer? Can they look a patient in the eye and tell them to keep fighting when all hope seems lost?

Can a robot, with all it’s extensive medical knowledge and dead-calm demeanor, go into a hospital room and give anything more than just the cold, hard facts?

No, they can’t.

What makes doctors good at their jobs isn’t how good they are at treating people, though it is a big portion of the deciding factor. What it comes down to is how they interact with a patient — how they can give crappy news and comfort them and tell them to be strong, and that they’re going to beat something.

It’s how much they care for their patients, and no amount of artificial intelligence will ever replace that bond.

Sure, there can be new advancements in medical technology that help doctors do their job, like that awesome vein-mapping tool.

But machines can never replace human beings in the medical world like they did in the automotive industry.

Human beings aren’t cattle, and a doctor’s office is definitely not the time for us to be thrown in and tossed back out so that the next person on the assembly line can get fixed.

Yes, the medical field isn’t perfect today, and there are a lot of crap doctors still running around. But at least there’s still hope and comfort between doctors and patients.

So let’s not open Pandora’s box again and leave it alone.

Megan Mann can be reached at [email protected] or @meganisthemann on Twitter.