Digital Technologies in Health Care: Updating the Physician-Patient-Relationship |
The rapid development of digital technologies and artificial intelligence increasingly impacts medical practice. In medical diagnostics, research, care and surgery, novel technologies carry an enormous potential to facilitate medical procedures and improve patient health, while potentially disrupting practices the medical profession has carefully calibrated over decades. To make sure that the distribution of the burdens and benefits digital technologies bring is fair, the model of the physician-patient relationship requires a ‘digital update’ that takes these arising ethical issues into account.
The aim of the project is twofold: first, to explore the ethical issues that arise with the deployment of digital health care technologies; and second, to develop an updated normative model of the relationship between physician and patient that distributes the burdens and benefits of deploying digital technologies fairly.
Physician-patient-relationship, medical ethics, algorithmic decision-making, patient autonomy, explainability
The use of digital technologies and artificial intelligence to enhance diagnostics and health care carries great promise: it can improve medical diagnostics, find new antibiotics, make surgery more precise, and broaden access to medical services. In order to deliver those benefits to the patients, the health care community is developing tools and procedures that embed those technologies firmly into medical practice. However, while the potential of new technologies is high, the deployment of digital tools also disrupts the relationship between physician and patient – a relationship whose ethics have been carefully calibrated over the last century. Whether the deployment of digital technologies damages or enhances this relationship crucially depends on the way digital medical tools are developed, how and under what constraints they are deployed, and what rights and duties come with their use. The aim of the project is twofold: first, to explore the ethical challenges of deploying digital technologies in health care by examining how they change the nature of the physician-patient relationship; and second, to develop a normative model of the physician-patient relationship in the digital context that adequately balances the competing values of higher healthcare efficiency and quality on the one hand, and patient autonomy on the other. Further, this normative model to be developed shall provide basic assumptions for a future interdisciplinary and collaborative research project at the intersection of digital health, the individual and societiesro-) perfusion, frequently used in different states of shock, especially for guiding fluid resuscitation and differentiated catecholaminergic support. This approach will enable patient-centered, individualized therapy guidance and therefore improve quality of care, patient safety and outcome in critically ill patients.