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Patients don’t understand use of AI in health care, and many don’t trust it


Lack of knowledge leaves room for doubt even as more physicians use artificial intelligence for some element of medicine.

ai healthcare concept art: © wladimir1804 - stock.adobe.com

© wladimir1804 - stock.adobe.com

Artificial intelligence (AI) affects 100% of physicians and other health care providers, but three out of four patients do not trust AI in a health care setting.

AI has become ubiquitous in health care, but a new survey found nearly 80% of patients don’t know if their doctor is using it or not. The findings were in a poll conducted by Carta Healthcare, a San Francisco, California-based firm specializing in data management programs, and Propeller Insights.

The reality is that “100% of healthcare providers are using AI, and have been for a long time,” but 43% of patients admit they have limited understanding of AI. A full 80% of patients want to know if their physicians are using AI within a medical practice.

“The survey indicates that Americans are uncertain about AI in healthcare, and that the healthcare industry needs to educate Americans about the benefits of AI to improve trust and comfort with its use,” Carta Healthcare CEO Matt Hollingsworth said in a news release. “AI can help providers improve patient care and outcomes, but it will best succeed if patients understand that it’s used as an assistive tool, not as a replacement for human interpretation and decisions.”

Respondents were split almost evenly about their comfort levels using AI in health care: 49% said they would be comfortable with their physician using it, while 51% said no. The comfort level goes up if the technology helps improve diagnostic accuracy, and 65% of patients said they would be more comfortable if their physicians or other health care providers explained how they use AI in medicine.

But 61% of patients said they trust their health care providers to use AI properly. As for face time with physicians and other clinicians, 63% of patients said they were worried that would decrease as use of AI increases, according to Carta Health.

Patients also fear their personal data also could be compromised, with 63% concerned increasing use of AI will put their health information at risk.

Regarding their experiences with physicians, 75% said their doctors provided empirical data specific to their conditions and 62% reported positive experiences with the health care system. A majority, 61%, reported they had immediate access to their medical records, but one in three don’t know where their data goes after they leave their doctor’s office.

“American health care is at a critical juncture,” Hollingsworth said. “Our survey reveals that consumers have an overall positive experience, yet growing concerns around data privacy, wait times, and lack of physician/patient interaction loom heavy.

“This shift signals a need for improved efficiency,” he said. “The technology is out there, armed to optimize the system.”

The research was conducted online with 1,027 consumers in August.

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