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Move over doctors, ChatGPT answers online patient queries better

By Lee Cleveland, FightSaga - May 10, 2023

ChatGPT vs. Doctors: Who Provides Better Online Medical Advice?

The research conducted by a team led by John W. Ayers, PhD, MA, has revealed that ChatGPT, an AI language model developed by OpenAI, is more effective than human doctors in answering patients’ questions online.

The study, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, compared the responses of doctors and ChatGPT to actual patient queries and discovered that the AI provided better quality answers and was perceived as more empathetic than the human doctors. This breakthrough has significant implications for the future of healthcare, as it indicates that AI chatbots could play a vital role in enhancing the quality and accessibility of medical advice for patients globally.

The researchers collected 195 questions and answers from the r/AskDocs subreddit, where licensed doctors respond to users’ medical inquiries. They then had ChatGPT answer the same questions, and evaluated both the quality of the answers and the empathy or bedside manner provided by both the AI and the human doctors. ‘

ChatGPT’s responses were rated as “good” or “very good” more than three times as frequently as the doctors’ responses. Additionally, the AI was rated as “empathetic” or “very empathetic” almost 10 times as often as the human doctors.

The study’s authors caution that their work is not an endorsement of ChatGPT over other AI tools and that additional research is necessary to determine the benefits and drawbacks of employing chatbots in healthcare. Nonetheless, the findings indicate that AI chatbots could be a valuable tool for both doctors and patients, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in an increase in demand for virtual care. AI chatbots could assist in reducing the burden on healthcare providers by addressing the deluge of patient inquiries and guaranteeing that patients receive accurate and timely medical advice.

“There’s one area in public health where there’s more need than ever before, and that is people seeking medical advice. Doctor’s inboxes are filled to the brim after this transition to virtual care because of COVID-19,” said the study’s lead author, John W. Ayers, PhD, MA, vice chief of innovation in the UC San Diego School of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health.

Furthermore, the study emphasizes the potential for AI chatbots to enhance the quality of medical advice given to patients. The researchers discovered that ChatGPT’s responses were not only superior in quality to those of human doctors, but they were also more empathetic. This is critical given the growing recognition of the importance of empathy in healthcare and the need for healthcare providers to communicate effectively with patients to establish trust and promote positive health outcomes.

Despite the potential benefits of AI chatbots in healthcare, there are also potential risks and limitations to consider. One of the primary concerns is the risk of misinformation, as AI chatbots may not always provide accurate or appropriate medical advice.

For example, a recent study revealed that ChatGPT made some serious errors when responding to questions about preventing cardiovascular disease, which could have severe consequences if patients follow the AI’s advice without consulting a real doctor.

Additionally, the study conducted by Ayers and his team only assessed responses to questions posted on Reddit, which may not represent the typical doctor-patient relationship in a clinical setting.

In conclusion, Ayers and his team’s research provides compelling evidence that AI chatbots, such as ChatGPT, can provide high-quality, empathetic medical advice to patients online. Although there are potential risks and limitations to consider, the findings suggest that AI chatbots could become a valuable tool for both doctors and patients, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, AI chatbots could become an increasingly important component of the healthcare landscape, aiding in the improvement of health outcomes and the enhancement of the patient experience.


Tags: AI