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What patients and doctors really think about AI in health care

Article

Survey shows that the technology is only going to get more pervasive – and accepted – as time goes on

A survey on AI-power chatbots – such as ChatGPT – showed that both patients and health care professionals see the technology as having the potential to improve care and reduce costs.

AI: ©wladimir1804 - stock.adobe.com

AI: ©wladimir1804 - stock.adobe.com

The chatbots have quickly become popular tools for people looking for quick and accessible health advice, but questions about the reliability of the information remain.

The Tebra survey of 1,000 Americans and an additional 500 health care professional lent insight into AI tools in health care.

Key findings:

  • Over 1 in 10 healthcare professionals use AI technologies, and almost 50% have expressed an intent to adopt these technologies in the future.
  • Among health care professionals, ChatGPT received the highest score for addressing patients’ questions the best.
  • Of health care professionals who experienced a perspective shift after reviewing AI’s medical advice, 95% shifted toward a more positive perspective.
  • 8 in 10 Americans believe that artificial intelligence has the potential to improve the quality of healthcare, reduce costs, and increase accessibility.
  • 1 in 4 Americans are more likely to talk to an AI chatbot instead of attending therapy.

One-quarter of Americans would not visit a health care provider who refuses to embrace AI technology.

For health care providers, 10% already use AI as part of their practice in some form, and half of the remaining 90% said they plan to use it for things like data entry, appointment scheduling, or medical research.
The integration of AI by providers may happen quickly, as 66% of respondents said they already know how the medical field could utilize tools like Med-PaLM 2 (Google’s medical research program) and ChatGPT. And while experts expect AI automation to improve efficiency, cut costs, and increase accessibility, concerns remain. These include:

  • Limit human interaction
  • Compromise data privacy
  • Lead to an overreliance on AI among health care providers

According to the survey, the presence of these elements is likely why 42% of health care professionals do not feel enthusiastic about the use of AI technologies in the health care industry.

The average patient also sees the potential in AI. Most of the Americans surveyed (8 in 10) said they believe AI has the potential to improve the quality of health care, reduce costs, and increase accessibility. One-quarter even said they’d prefer talking to an AI chatbot over a human therapist. Of those who have already turned to ChatGPT for therapy advice, 80% felt it was an effective alternative.

Doctors refusing to embrace AI may see fewer patients, as one-quarter of the respondents said they wouldn’t visit a health care provider who refuses to embrace AI technology. The top reasons patients wanted AI in healthcare were:

  • Faster medical care
  • Less potential for human error
  • Remote health care access

However, patients also have some reservations about the technology: 53% of Americans felt that AI can’t replace the experience of a human health expert, and 43% preferred human interaction and touch. Furthermore, 47% worried that AI may not yet be able to diagnose and treat health conditions accurately.

In a head-to-head showdown, the surveyed medical professionals reviewing health question responses from OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, and Microsoft’s Bing AI, awarded ChatGPT with the highest scores. After examining the medical guidance provided by ChatGPT, 46% of health care providers reported feeling more optimistic about the use of AI in health care, according to the survey. This represents a significant shift in perspective, with 95% of those surveyed indicating a more positive attitude towards AI technology in health care.

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