Is AI Better Than A Doctor? ChatGPT Outperforms Physicians In Compassion And Quality Of Advice

New research published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that language models like ChatGPT developed by OpenAI are preferred over human physicians when it comes to answering health-related questions. While AI assistants will not replace doctors, integrating them into health systems could revolutionize medicine.

To conduct the study, researchers randomly selected 195 exchanges from the subreddit r/AskDocs, where a verified physician responded to a public question. The team provided the original question to ChatGPT and asked it to author a response. A panel of three licensed healthcare professionals assessed each question and corresponding response without knowing whether the response originated from a physician or ChatGPT.

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The results were striking: The panel preferred ChatGPT responses to physician responses 79% of the time, and ChatGPT’s responses were rated significantly higher in quality and more empathetic. Responses rated as “good” or “very good” quality were 3.6 times higher for ChatGPT than physicians, and “empathetic” or “very empathetic” responses were 9.8 times higher for ChatGPT than for physicians.

“The opportunities for improving healthcare with AI are massive,” said Dr. Eric Ayers, one of the study's authors “AI-augmented care is the future of medicine.” By integrating AI assistants like ChatGPT into healthcare systems, physicians could be provided with faster and more accurate responses, while patients could receive more personalized and empathetic care.

To capitalize on this, venture capital has been investing billions into AI. OpenAI inked a $10 billion deal with Microsoft Corp. earlier this year and many of the top deals have been into companies focused on artificial intelligence. Retail investors have also been getting in on the action with companies like Bioverge allowing anyone to invest in healthcare-technology-based venture funds.

The study also has implications for reducing the burden on physicians. With doctors' ever-increasing workload, AI assistants could provide a way to manage the workload and provide better care to patients. As Dr. Aaron Goodman, another of the study’s co-authors, said, “ChatGPT is a prescription I’d like to give to my inbox. The tool will transform the way I support my patients.”

While the study pitted ChatGPT against physicians, the ultimate solution is not to replace doctors altogether. As Dr. Adam Poliak, an assistant professor of computer science at Bryn Mawr College and study co-author, said, “We still need physicians to make clinical decisions and manage care, but AI assistants like ChatGPT can provide support and improve the quality of care patients receive.”

While this study offers a glimpse into the transformative potential of AI assistants, they truly have the potential to improve care by working in tandem with doctors.

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