During a routine dental cleaning, a conversation was sparked about a book that my patient was reading. It was Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow," a book condensing over 50 years of behavioural psychology into an accessible format. Since that day in 2015, I've delved into the book multiple times, and it has profoundly influenced my thinking, and interactions with others. This encounter also led me to co-create CoTreat AI in 2020, aiming to tackle challenges discussed in the book.
For those unfamiliar with Kahneman's work, he introduces the idea of two mental systems: one for quick, efficient thought and another for deliberate, precise thinking. These systems shape our 'biases and heuristics'. Our innate assumptions and mental shortcuts that aid day to day decision making. For instance, in dentistry, we often recommend six-month intervals for check-ups as a heuristic. Not strictly evidence-based but generally effective.
Although Kahneman's insights have been widely applied in fields like economics and politics, their use in healthcare, particularly dentistry, has been minimal. Yet, these principles are important to dental practices and practitioners, where we routinely engage in 'decision-making under uncertainty' through diagnosis and treatment planning.
CoTreat AI was born from the idea that diverse perspectives can help avert individual misjudgments in treatment decisions. In private practice, it's impractical to seek a second opinion for every case. Hence, we leveraged AI, algorithmic decision making and academic research to create Colleague, an AI-driven quality improvement system that provides practitioners with a safety net for their treatment plans.
The system offers feedback, which practitioners can either incorporate or dismiss based on their professional judgment. For example, Colleague might offer insights on a treatment plan for stage III periodontitis (One of 300 observations Colleague can process), if missed, ensuring a higher standard of care.
Our hope is that initiatives like CoTreat AI will grow the legacy of Daniel Kahneman and his late colleague Amos Tversky.