Trust a Doctor or a Robot? Hmmm.

    Andrey_Popov /
    Andrey_Popov /

    Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly becoming a pivotal tool in enhancing medical care, demonstrating significant benefits in various healthcare settings.

    At Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, AI technology has been employed to monitor patients in “step down” units—areas designated for patients who do not require intensive care but are at risk of rapid deterioration. The AI systems keep track of vital signs, heart rhythms, lab results, and nurse observations. Patients were categorized into two groups for a study: one monitored by AI and the other by traditional methods. When potential clinical deterioration was detected, the AI system alerted the rapid response team to administer necessary treatments promptly.

    The study revealed that patients monitored by AI were 43% more likely to receive timely cardiovascular support medications than those under conventional monitoring. Additionally, the 30-day mortality rate for the AI-monitored group was lower at 7%, compared to 9.3% in the traditionally monitored group.

    Dr. David Reich, the senior study author, emphasized the role of AI in healthcare: “We think of these as ‘augmented intelligence’ tools that speed in-person clinical evaluations by our physicians and nurses and prompt the treatments that keep our patients safer. These are key steps toward the goal of becoming a learning health system.”

    In another study, the capabilities of AI chatbots like ChatGPT-3.5 and ChatGPT-4 were evaluated in answering specialized medical questions. The responses were assessed by a panel of eight physicians for accuracy, relevance, clarity, benefit, and completeness. The findings indicated that both ChatGPT models performed well, with GPT-4 scoring higher across all criteria. The strength of ChatGPT lies in its ability to rapidly pull a vast range of medical data, thereby assisting doctors in staying updated with the latest medical information and standards, which is crucial for handling complex medical cases.

    Public trust in AI-driven healthcare is also on the rise. A survey highlighted that 64% of participants would prefer an AI-generated diagnosis over one from a human doctor, a sentiment that is even stronger among Gen Z, with 80% favoring AI.

    Despite these advancements, AI is not without its flaws. A recent incident involving Google’s AI Overview showcased the system providing erroneous medical advice, likely sourced from a satirical article. This underscores that while AI has the potential to augment the capabilities of human physicians significantly, it is not yet ready to replace them entirely.

    AI’s role in healthcare is evolving from a novel technology to a reliable tool that complements the work of medical professionals. As AI continues to develop, it is poised to become an indispensable ally in the medical field, enhancing the efficiency and accuracy of patient care.