Artificial Intelligence

GenAI Still Working Toward Prime Time With Patients

AI Therapist

When it rains it pours for AI research, and a trio of studies published just last week suggest that many new generative AI tools might not be ready for prime time with patients.

The research that grabbed the most headlines came out of UCSD, finding that GenAI-drafted replies to patient messages led to more compassionate responses, but didn’t cut down on overall messaging time.

  • Although GenAI reduced the time physicians spent writing replies by 6%, that was more than offset by a 22% increase in read time, while also increasing average reply lengths by 18%.
  • Some of the physicians were also put off by the “overly nice” tone of the GenAI message drafts, and recommended that future research look into “how much empathy is too much empathy” from the patient perspective.

Another study in Lancet Digital Health showed that GPT-4 can effectively generate replies to health questions from cancer patients… as well as replies that might kill them.

  • Mass General Brigham researchers had six radiation oncologists review GPT-4’s responses to simulated questions from cancer patients for 100 scenarios, finding that 58% of its replies were acceptable to send to patients without any editing, 7% could lead to severe harm, and one was potentially lethal.
  • The verdict? Generative AI has the potential to reduce workloads, but it’s still essential to “keep doctors in the loop.”

A team at Mount Sinai took a different path to a similar conclusion, finding that four popular GenAI models have a long way to go until they’re better than humans at matching medical issues to the correct diagnostic codes.

  • After having GPT-3.5, GPT-4, Gemini Pro, and Llama2-70b analyze and code 27,000 unique diagnoses, GPT-4 came out on top in terms of exact matches, achieving an uninspiring accuracy of 49.8%.

The Takeaway

While it isn’t exactly earth-shattering news that GenAI still has room to improve, the underlying theme with each of these studies is more that its impact is far from black and white. GenAI is rarely completely right or completely wrong, and although there’s no doubt we’ll get to the point where it’s working its magic without as many tradeoffs, this research confirms that we’re definitely not there yet.

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