In November last year, OpenAI introduced the first free version of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot. Within a mere 72 hours, doctors began utilizing this innovative tool. While experts anticipated that large language models like ChatGPT could revolutionize mundane tasks and alleviate doctors' burnout, they also harbored concerns about the potential for incorrect or fabricated medical information.
However, the most surprising application of ChatGPT emerged when doctors started leveraging its abilities to communicate with patients in a more compassionate manner. Numerous studies have highlighted the significance of a doctor's compassion to patients, often surpassing considerations like waiting time or cost. Yet, many doctors struggle to convey empathy effectively.
Chatbots Are Getting Better at It: Enter chatbots, aiding doctors in finding the right words to break bad news, express concerns, or clearly explain medical recommendations. This unexpected role has intrigued and disconcerted professionals like Dr. Peter Lee of Microsoft, who initially found it alarming.
Dr. Michael Pignone from the University of Texas at Austin and his colleagues turned to ChatGPT to enhance their interactions with patients who hadn't responded to previous interventions. The chatbot instantly provided the team with comprehensive talking points, later revised for readability and translation into Spanish. The resulting script, adjusted to a fifth-grade reading level, offered patients a more accessible understanding of treatment options.
Despite Some Skeptics: and concerns about errors, many doctors have embraced ChatGPT's assistance. It provides a valuable resource for improving patient-doctor communication, especially when it comes to empathy and delivering difficult news. However, some experts question whether reliance on AI for empathetic words is necessary, emphasizing the importance of trust and respect in the doctor-patient relationship.
While Some Doctors Hesitate: to admit their use of chatbots, those who have tried ChatGPT believe that exploring its capabilities is worthwhile. Early access to GPT-4, the updated version, further impressed healthcare professionals like Dr. Isaac Kohane, who experienced its ability to expedite time-consuming tasks like patient evaluation.
As AI continues to advance, doctors must grapple with the evolving role of technology in healthcare. Chatbots may never replace the human touch, but they offer a valuable tool for enhancing communication and streamlining certain tasks, ultimately benefiting both doctors and patients.