Artificial intelligence and the ongoing need for empathy, compassion and trust in healthcare.
Empathy, compassion and trust are fundamental values of a patient-centred, relational model of health care. In recent years, the quest for greater efficiency in health care, including economic efficiency, has often resulted in the side-lining of these values, making it difficult for health-care professionals to incorporate them in practice. Artificial intelligence is increasingly being used in health care. This technology promises greater efficiency and more free time for health-care professionals to focus on the human side of care, including fostering trust relationships and engaging with patients with empathy and compassion. This article considers the vision of efficient, empathetic and trustworthy health care put forward by the proponents of artificial intelligence. The paper suggests that artificial intelligence has the potential to fundamentally alter the way in which empathy, compassion and trust are currently regarded and practised in health care. Moving forward, it is important to re-evaluate whether and how these values could be incorporated and practised within a health-care system where artificial intelligence is increasingly used. Most importantly, society needs to re-examine what kind of health care it ought to promote.