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AI in Healthcare: Does Hype Match Reality


Interest in generative AI is at an all-time high, following the November 2022 release of OpenAI’s artificial intelligence-enabled chatbot ChatGPT.


Healthcare organizations ranging from vendors to health systems are beginning to use generative AI to solve some of their most fundamental challenges. Researchers are using large data sets to draw more complicated conclusions.


Here’s what you need to know about generative AI in healthcare.


Generative AI is the capability of algorithms to automatically generate content from user queries such as text, video and images.

ChatGPT is a public-facing generative AI text application from OpenAI. OpenAI has developed other generative AI applications available for paying customers and is working with Microsoft, which made a reported $10 billion investment in the company. Other big tech firms such as Google and Meta have launched their own generative AI tools.


Experts say the most immediate areas it can help in healthcare are with administrative tasks that require clinician or human oversight like billing, post-appointment clinical notes or communicating with patients.


Michael Hasselberg, chief digital health officer at University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, said he is a believer in its power. The large language AI models from ChatGPT are “light years ahead” of what Hasselberg said he’s seen in the marketplace from various startups automating healthcare administrative and revenue cycle processes.

Dr. Isaac Kohane, chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School, recently co-authored a book, “The AI Revolution in Medicine: GPT-4 and Beyond.” He wrote that ChatGPT still has a tendency to make up facts. A March study from researchers at Stanford Medicine found 6% of the medical papers ChatGPT referenced when answering medical questions were fabricated, which potentially could be harmful in clinical care.


Concern also exists about ChatGPT exposing sensitive patient information. The public version of ChatGPT is not compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. To protect patient privacy, organizations like Cleveland Clinic and Jacksonville, Florida-based Baptist Health have secured and actively monitored private data repositories when testing ChatGPT. Rigorous testing is needed to implement generative AI, experts say.

What are some areas of medicine where it could be used?

Researchers and experts have begun to explore the possibilities of where it could affect patient care. Patient communication seems to be one of the more prominent areas where it could assist. A recent study led by researchers at UC San Diego found patients preferred ChatGPT’s answers to medical questions more often than physicians.

Researchers are also looking at how generative AI can improve cancer care and reduce the $200 billion America spends treating the disease. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai found ChatGPT could improve health outcomes for patients with cirrhosis and liver cancer by providing easy-to-understand information about the disease. The study also found that the generative AI solution can diagnose rare diseases that are one in a million with incredible accuracy.



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