Given Artificial Intelligence’s potential to improve patient care and reduce costs, it’s no surprise that AI applications are gaining momentum in health care. As your organization explores the benefits of AI in your journey towards Value-Based Care, however, you need to carefully assess the implications, for better and worse.
Evaluating AI implications can be tricky. Healthcare AI varies widely, with clinical technology paving the way for advancements in diagnostics and treatment. But pressure on ACOs to achieve savings is spurring consideration of machine assistants for customary clinician services. That’s the message of one recent study suggesting that AI chatbots may outperform physicians in communicating with patients, offering higher-quality responses and displaying greater empathy. The study evaluated how chatbots versus physicians responded to 195 patient questions from Reddit’s r/AskDocs. Surprisingly, healthcare professionals who reviewed the responses favored chatbot answers over those from physicians in terms of quality (78.5 to 22.1 percent) and empathy (45.1 to 4.6 percent). Not a great report card for physicians!
But before planning to use chatbots in patient education, navigation, and coaching – especially given staffing shortages in health care – ACOs should closely examine the underlying assumptions. Consider these very human factors: How do patients feel about discussing treatment plans with chatbots? Was the study validated and reviewed by peers? What were the study’s limitations and biases? Did physicians couch their responses with caution due to liability or clinical concerns? Either could have negatively affected the tone of physician communications.
Theresa Hush is the CEO and co-founder of Roji Health Intelligence. Check out the Roji Health Intelligence exhibit booth!