The advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) has already begun to reshape various industries worldwide, with healthcare being no exception. The incorporation of AI and ChatGPT technologies into medicine is poised to improve patient outcomes, streamline processes, and enhance the overall quality of care.
We recently released a podcast episode on how AI will ultimately affect the practice and art of medicine. The same day we recorded the podcast at HIMSS in Chicago — Epic/Microsoft/OpenAI announced a partnership that would bring ChatGPT 4 technology into the electronic health record, which is simply put, a massive partnership that can change the face of medical documentation immediately.
Improved Diagnostics and Decision-Making
One of the most significant areas where AI could make a substantial impact is in diagnostics and decision-making. By analyzing vast amounts of data, AI algorithms can identify patterns and correlations . As an example, there are already companies that are using AI and computer vision to evaluate slides before they necessarily are even seen by a board-certified pathologist. However, these tools will not ultimately replace physicians but will augment their practice and hopefully make them much more efficient.
AI companies (Aidoc, Viz.ai, RadAI) have been raising hundreds of millions to combine the benefit of AI in the world of radiology. From flagging imaging studies with concerns for large vessel occlusions (stroke) to automating a radiologist’s final impression from their primary dictation. These AI systems have the potential to treat patients appropriately faster than ever before and should be seen as allys rather than out to take your job.
ChatGPT technologies can aid in clinical decision-making by considering a multitude of factors such as patient history, demographics, and the latest medical research. By providing evidence-based suggestions, these tools can support physicians in making well-informed decisions, leading to more personalized and effective treatments.
Some startups are beginning to build within this space, most notably a recent YCombinator-backed company, Glass Health, which was founded by a physician, Dereck Paul. However, with Epic’s recent partnership announcement, my primary concern is that we may be reducing the overall TAM of these new startups before they even get off the ground. I am quite shocked that these large players are moving so quickly into the AI space after very minimal changes to their product lines.
Enhancing Patient Engagement and Communication
Effective communication between healthcare providers and patients is essential for optimal care. ChatGPT can serve as a powerful tool in this regard by facilitating seamless interactions and providing patients with real-time access to medical information. For instance, patients can use ChatGPT-powered applications to ask questions about their symptoms or treatment plans and receive prompt, accurate responses.
Notably, this appears to be the first space that Epic will be creating products for the EHR — utilizing ChatGPT within the in-basket. For physicians, in-basket messages can take up an enormous amount of time to go through and answer patient’s or other provider’s clinical questions. With ChatGPT, you will be able to utilize a pre-written response and simply edit that response, which should allow for some amount of reinforcement learning to make those responses even better in the long-term.
Streamlining Administrative Tasks
AI and ChatGPT can significantly reduce the administrative burden on healthcare professionals by automating tasks such as appointment scheduling, billing, maintaining patient records. By automating these time-consuming tasks, healthcare providers can focus more on direct patient care, leading to an overall improvement in the quality of healthcare services.
Prior authorizations have been the bane of physicians for quite some time and their have been a few large players within the startup space that have built towards automating the process. Epic has an interesting capacity to actually create a product with the use ChatGPT to finally make a big dent in this large administrative burden.
Challenges & Concerns
My biggest concern with utilizing ChatGPT within medicine stems mostly from the increase in overall efficiency of each physician and clinical provider. Will clinics and hospital systems just expect their physicians to do more work, see more patients, read more studies — or will we finally see some time returned to our MDs and RNs and allow them to recuperate a bit from the insanity of the last few years and the resultant burnout.
Although AI has the potential to make physicians more superhuman than they already are, the optimistic view that AI in medicine will ultimately benefit healthcare professionals remains uncertain. It is crucial for the healthcare industry to carefully consider the balance between efficiency and the well-being of physicians and other clinicians as AI continues to advance.
Gregory Hanson, MD, MPH
Founder, The Physician Syndicate
Listen to the podcast.
News Release from Microsoft