ChatGPT may be the fastest-growing consumer internet application to have ever been launched. Launched in November, the artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot developed by OpenAI reached 100 million users in just two months. Its unprecedented popularity can be attributed to its impressive capabilities. The man who ignited the home computer revolution, Bill Gates, believes ChatGPT will ‘change the world,’ claiming that AI is just as important as the PC and the internet.
Here, we discuss how ChatGPT may change the face of healthcare and, if it can do so ethically.
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Once a thing of science fiction, AI is now widely used, even in our daily lives – often without us thinking about it. However, until recently, AI could not truly understand the content. While AI has been able to read and write, it has lacked that next level of intelligence that comes from understanding. With Chat GPT, it seems this next level has been unlocked.
ChatGPT exists in the form of an AI-enabled chatbot that mirrors intuitive human conversation. It can write articles, essays, job applications, and even jokes and poetry in response to text prompts. Since it was introduced to the world in November 2022, Chat GPT has wowed the world with its capabilities, having passed law exams at the University of Minnesota and the University of Pennsylvania‘s Wharton School of Business, written feature-length articles, and coded full websites.
The popularity of ChatGPT is fueled by human curiosity about the vast capabilities of the technology. Its newness and applicability to a wide range of industries mean its full potential is yet to be discovered. Leaders in all sectors have already begun to explore what it could do for them. ChatGPT is poised to disrupt numerous industries, and search engines, education, graphic design, research, healthcare, retail, banking, manufacturing, logistics, and travel are already identified as those that stand to benefit from the technology.
Here, we focus on how it can be used in healthcare, how it may cause a shift in the industry, and what ethical implications must be considered.
There are many potential applications of ChatGPT in healthcare, and the extent to which ChatGPT might improve healthcare may cause a profound shift in our healthcare systems.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a rise in the use of telemedicine, and ChatGPT can facilitate this shift towards the remote management of healthcare by developing virtual assistants to book patient appointments, help patients receive treatments, and manage their health information.
While human doctors will always be needed to make the final call on healthcare decisions, ChatGPT can assist with clinical decision support by providing real-time, evidence-based recommendations such as flagging potential drug interactions, suggesting treatment options for a specific condition, and providing relevant clinical guidelines.
Medical record keeping is another area where ChatGPT will likely improve healthcare systems. Here, it could summarize patient medical histories, effectively streamlining the record-keeping process. Theoretically, healthcare professionals could dictate to ChatGPT, which could automatically summarize the key details.
Real-time translation is another function of ChatGPT that can be leveraged in healthcare. The system’s advanced language processing capabilities could be capitalized on to quickly and accurately translate technical terms and medical jargon, ensuring patients fully understand their diagnosis, treatment options, and medical instructions.
Clinical trials are vital to the advancement of the healthcare system. They are pivotal to developing new treatments, diagnostic tools, and preventative strategies. Clinical trials need many participants, and recruitment can be challenging. ChatGPT could identify patients that meet inclusion criteria, helping researchers connect with patients willing to participate in the clinical trial.
Already, there are many online tools designed to check symptoms to help patients determine when medical attention is required. ChatGPT can be used to develop more accurate and reliable symptom checkers that could provide more fine-tuned guidance on the next steps.
ChatGPT also has the potential to enhance medical education. The system could provide healthcare professionals and students instant access to the medical information and resources needed to support their development.
Finally, ChatGPT has potential applications in mental health support, remote patient monitoring, medication management, disease surveillance, medical writing, patient triage, and more.
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While its potential is huge, considerable ethical considerations cannot be omitted from any conversation about ChatGPT. With the launch of ChatGPT and other advanced AI, we have reached a turning point with artificial intelligence, and it is vital that we must assess how to use these increasingly intelligent and capable tools ethically and safely.
There are many ethical considerations to address when implementing AI tools in any industry. Those that are perhaps most relevant to healthcare relate to privacy and safety. When using ChatGPT, you are feeding it data, and in healthcare, this data will often be confidential patient information. This has huge implications for data protection, as before ChatGPT can be widely adopted in healthcare, systems must be established to ensure that patient information is kept private. In addition, there is the risk that due to the incredible capabilities of ChatGPT, users may naturally blindly trust the system to be 100% accurate all of the time. ChatGPT should be used to assist rather than do, and all work and information it provides should be checked. If incorrect, the AI-generated information provided by ChatGPT has the potential to impact a person’s health; therefore, great caution should be taken
Overall, ChatGPT has the potential to streamline and improve healthcare systems in numerous ways. It is like that this technology will become widely adopted and cause a permanent shift, such as the widespread adoption of the internet has revolutionized industries. However, the technology should be used with caution and should not be relied on to make healthcare decisions in the absence of human healthcare professionals.