WTF Fun Fact 13351 – ChatGPT and Doctors

There are a few interesting relationships between ChatGPT and doctors. In fact, we know doctors are using the generative AI tool to help them diagnose patients. But perhaps more disturbingly, a recent study recently found that ChatGPT was judged as more empathetic than human doctors when responding to patients.

Empathy is an essential aspect of effective patient care, as it allows healthcare providers to connect with their patients on an emotional level and better understand their concerns. That makes it something we can’t simply farm out to machines.

The study of ChatGPT and doctors’ empathy

The study in question assessed the empathetic responses of ChatGPT in comparison to those of human doctors. Researchers used anonymized text-based conversations between patients and their healthcare providers, replacing the doctors’ responses with those generated by ChatGPT. Then, they asked participants to rate the empathy exhibited by each response.

Surprisingly, ChatGPT’s responses were rated as more empathetic than those of human doctors. This finding suggests that AI language models like ChatGPT might have the potential to enhance patient communication and care by providing more empathetic and compassionate responses. It may also suggest that doctors need some better training.

Improving patient communication

There are several reasons why AI might excel in providing empathetic communication in healthcare settings. For starters, AI systems can be programmed to prioritize empathetic language in their responses. This ensures that each patient receives a compassionate and understanding reply, regardless of their sitaution. In contrast, human doctors might sometimes struggle with maintaining empathy due to factors such as stress, time constraints, or even prejudice.

Additionally, AI systems can quickly process and analyze large amounts of data. This allows them to better tailor their responses to each patient’s unique needs and concerns. This personalized communication could help patients feel better understood and supported.

Since AI language models can be updated and improved continuously, they can incorporate the latest research on empathy and communication techniques. As a result, AI-driven communication tools have the potential to evolve and become increasingly empathetic over time.

Limitations of AI in healthcare

Despite the promising results of the study, there are several challenges and limitations to consider when implementing AI in healthcare communication. One major concern is the potential for AI systems to misunderstand or misinterpret patient concerns due to the nuances and complexities of human language. Inaccurate interpretations could lead to inappropriate or ineffective responses, which could negatively impact patient care.

And while AI can generate empathetic responses, it lacks the genuine emotional understanding and human connection that healthcare providers can offer. This limitation could ultimately undermine the therapeutic relationship.

Another challenge is ensuring patient privacy and data security. AI systems require access to sensitive patient information to provide personalized responses. Ensuring that these systems adhere to privacy regulations is crucial for protecting patient trust and confidentiality.

Yet, despite its limitations, it appears AI has the potential to play a valuable role in supporting human healthcare providers and enhancing patient communication. At the very least, AI systems could help manage routine administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments or answering frequently asked questions, freeing up more time for healthcare providers to focus on direct patient care.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “ChatGPT Appears More Empathetic Than Human Doctors When Responding To Patients” — IFL Science

WTF Fun Fact 13142 – Use of Telemedicine in the U.S.

Telemedicine use skyrocketed during the pandemic, and now it seems poised to become a regular part of the healthcare landscape. A CDC report from October 2022 revealed just how much Americans relied on telemedicine in the previous year.

What is telemedicine?

Telemedicine is the use of electronic means (telephones, text messages, voice and video chats, etc.) to deliver healthcare to patients remotely. While it may occasionally involve in-office testing, most of the doctor-patient relationship takes place over a device like a phone or a computer.

During the COVID-19 pandemic State of Emergency, the U.S. expanded legislation to allow more providers to deliver a broader range of care options via telemedicine. Healthcare providers had been relatively limited in what they could do for patients without seeing them in person before this.

A CDC report using 2021 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data to assess the use of telemedicine provided interesting insight into just how many Americans over age 18 took advantage of what it had to offer in the second year of the pandemic.

The rise of telemedicine use

In 2021, 37% of American adults reported using telemedicine in the previous 12 months.

The report also found that the older people were, the more likely they were to use it. On some level, that makes sense since older people are more vulnerable to severe cases of COVID. However, it hasn’t often been the case that technology use increases with age in the past.

Women were also more likely to use telemedicine. 42% of women said they used it in 2021, compared to 31.7% of men. (However, women are more likely to see doctors than men.)

Other statistics

Adults in the U.S. West were the most likely to use telemedicine, and those in the Midwest were the least likely.

Telemedicine use increased with patients’ urbanization level – those living in large metropolitan areas were more likely to use it. This is interesting because the technology was initially used to reach those who lived far from hospitals and clinics. However, during the pandemic, people in urban areas may have been more reluctant to head to hospitals and seek care due to crowded public transportation and waiting rooms.

Those with a GED or higher education level were also more likely to get on the phone or computer to “visit” their doctor. As education levels go up, so does the use of this technology.

And while those with a below-average or average income are equally likely to engage with healthcare providers electronically, its use increases among those with higher incomes.

It appears that if telemedicine is going to be part of the future of medicine, it will be important to ensure a broader range of people have access to it and knowledge about its benefits.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Telemedicine Use Among Adults: United States, 2021” —