2018 MENA Conference Report
The impending impact of Artificial Intelligence on healthcare will lead to radical disruption of the entire edifice of medical education and practice. In this new era, diagnostic accuracy and therapeutic options will be more reliably provided by machines, re-focusing the role of the physician on the personalized approach to patient care, and on the humanistic, and social determinants of illness. Personalization of care in the new era will, in turn, require that physicians acquire new knowledge and skills in two major domains hitherto underrepresented in premedical and medical curricula, namely: Technology/AI, and Medical Humanities/Narrative Medicine. Knowledge and skills in Technology/AI will be essential for physicians to address competently three questions: How is my patient’s body unique? How is my patient’s disease unique? How is my patient’s treatment unique? Knowledge and skills in Medical Humanities/Narrative Medicine to answer the question: How is my patient’s story unique?
These changes in how medicine will be practiced in the new era will dictate radical revisions of the entire edifice of medical education, starting with the undergraduate (“pre-med”) curriculum and extending to graduate medical education.
These changes will also present a major challenge to the teaching faculty at academic health centers, and to how schools of medicine will work symbiotically with the medical centers/systems which serve as their teaching institutions, especially that medical education is no longer encapsulated in a four-year program, but spans the lifetime of a physician from pre-medical years to formal medical education, and throughout his/her career through continuing medical education. Currently, medical education is fragmented and maladapted to the needed knowledge, skills, and attitudes of future physicians; a comprehensive transformation of the curriculum is inevitable. The resulting model should generate an evolving curriculum that integrates humanism and technology, and is malleable to incorporate rapid continued advancements in both.
With this backdrop, and a clear need to empower academic healthcare centers to transform, adapt, and thrive in a continuously evolving landscape, the Association of Academic Health Centers International (AAHCI) MENA Regional Office, hosted at the American University of Beirut’s Medical Center (AUBMC), organized the inaugural AAHCI MENA Regional Conference, “Transformation of Medical Education in the New Era: Humanism, Technology, and the Physician of Tomorrow” in September 2018 to discuss and identify the needed competencies for “a doctor to be a doctor in the 21st century”.
More specifically, the objectives of this meeting were to pose two major challenges, and propose strategies and goals aimed at meeting them.
Challenge #1: How do we prepare and select future physicians to be competent in both humanities and technology?
Challenge #2: Will technology and AI further alienate doctors from patients and widen the gap in health disparity between rich and poor, or will they provide a disruptive change that will restore and deepen the doctor-patient relationship, and make healthcare more widely affordable?
Over the course of three days, six panels and four plenary sessions, with speakers from around the world, the conference provided a platform to critically discuss and challenge the traditional methods of medical education and to highlight new trends and technologies, and recommend the required competencies for the physicians of tomorrow. Discussions also included the need for overhaul of the evaluation systems of medical students and graduates.
The conference began with a journey through the history of medical education, “From Galen to Google”. A series of sessions then examined the importance of medical humanities in the new curriculum. This included discussions on the pre-medical and medical education curricula, the inclusion of arts and humanities in the formation of students and a focus on the theories of Narrative Medicine and how to teach the principles and practice of Narrative Medicine, as we shape doctors to also be healers. Panelists also discussed the importance of mitigating the divides in healthcare delivery and embracing humanism with science, rejecting the thesis of a negative dialectic between the technical and intimate faces of medicine, but rather striving for a symbiotic unity.
Panelists went on to discuss the Artificial Intelligence and its role in personalized medicine, as well as the necessary changes in the pre-clinical curriculum to include the required skills and competencies for the new era of AI. These changes in the curriculum will also necessitate the complete evolution of medical student competencies assessment. The format of the MCAT exam and its use as a main component for admissions was also discussed. Technology will be a key transformative factor in the evolution of assessment.
Panelists presented the new landscape of healthcare delivery and demonstrated and discussed the use of simulation and technology in training and in clinical practice. Discussions revolved around how to integrate the modern and technologically advanced physician with the delivery of the most compassionate care. The convergence of engineering, data sciences with clinical and biomedical research is upon us, and it is crucial to graduate doctors capable of integrating into this new arena.
Transformations in healthcare through decentralized care was discussed, particularly the application of block chain technology and AI in diagnostics, therapeutics and patient data management. Panelists went on to discuss and demonstrate examples of technologies that have added value to clinical practice, such as AI applications in medical imaging, smart accommodating lenses and AI in Ophthalmology, and augmented reality in the training and delivery of specialized healthcare. Maintaining a humanistic angle, discussions also revolved around how technology can be used to service the poor and, in fact, if embraced appropriately, many of these technologies will address and help mitigate some of the major global health challenges in access to healthcare.
The round table and open forum sessions discoursed the symbiotic synthesis of humanism and technology in shaping the future of medicine. There is a disruptive transformation in medicine as we know it and we will change how we think, deliver and measure healthcare. Technology is taking medicine a leap forward, but a balance is necessary between science and humanism while maintaining the patient at the center.
Conclusions and Recommendations:
Consensus was reached on the urgent need for: A new medical education model, which will graduate physicians committed to a symbiotic synthesis of humanism, AI, and technology and that restores the direct intimate doctor-patient relationship, and provides wider access to healthcare. To this end, a recommendation is raised to the AAHC to form a global task force of experts and thought leaders charged with: Radical revision of the structure and duration of medical training. radical revision of the premedical and MD curricula. integrating medical education within holistic (cross-professional) healthcare training from the outset.
AUBMC and AAHCI:
As the host of the AAHCI MENA office, AUBMC aims to establish a platform to address regional needs and challenges and to develop programs with region-specific interests. It will also foster regional networking opportunities, educational programs, exchange of best practices, data collection and analysis as well as promote the understanding of the academic health center concept to government, industry, and the public. Finally, it will lend a voice from this region to the North American and European institutions to gain guidance and share experiences and success stories
MENA Regional Office to be hosted by American University of Beirut
August 1, 2017
It is with great pleasure that we announce that the American University of Beirut (AUB) will host the Association of Academic Health Centers International (AAHCI) MENA Regional Office. As leaders in the field of medical care, we continuously seek to advance our health system through major collaborations. The new collaboration will pave the way in bringing together academic health centers to promote regional activities, as well as programs that are of particular interest to the area.
In his capacity as a Regional Ambassador, Executive Vice President for Medicine and Global Strategy, Dr. Mohamed H. Sayegh, will be working closely with AUB members to actively support health centers worldwide. The regional office will mainly provide valuable insight for AAHCI on key issues and challenges faced in the region. Ms. Noha Hachach will act as the Regional Administrator for the office.
Accordingly, AUB will play a pivotal role as a growing platform to customize region-specific interests and tailor programs, facilitate important regional networking opportunities, educational programs, exchange of best practices, data collection and analysis, and community/regional relationships, and promote the understanding of the academic health center concept to government, industry, and the public.
Hosting the AAHCI regional office is a great opportunity to empower healthcare centers to transform, adapt, and thrive in a landscape which is continuously evolving. It reinforces AUB’s pioneering role in supporting medical advancement, while acting as a gateway to assure high quality patient care to the whole MENA region. This will ultimately lay the ground for further development in the future, keeping AUB at the forefront of progress to ensure a highly transformative healthcare environment.