“Transforming Patient Education in Primary Care with Artificial Intelligence”

Over the past decade, there has been a significant shift in the landscape of modern doctor’s offices, thanks to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). Patients are no longer solely relying on Google for medical questions, as sophisticated language models like ChatGPT and Bing chatbot are now providing personalized and comprehensive responses to routine medical inquiries.

As a family physician, the potential benefits of this AI tool are evident not only during office visits but also afterward when patients have follow-up questions. Previously, patients would often come in with information gathered from Google, leading to the time-consuming task of sifting through the online clutter to find accurate and reliable details. This resulted in patients leaving with handouts containing overwhelming and complex information that they rarely revisited. Recent studies have indicated that AI holds the promise of bridging the gap between patients’ knowledge and what their doctors assume they know.

The ability of AI to create its own connections and form narratives based on a foundation of web knowledge is groundbreaking. However, the accuracy of these narratives raises concerns, given the abundance of misinformation online. A recent study evaluating the responses of ChatGPT regarding mammograms for women over 74 years old found that it provided appropriate information 64% of the time. While the study highlighted instances of inappropriate or unreliable responses, it showcased the potential of AI to assist in medical decision-making.

For more straightforward medical questions, AI models like Bing chatbot have shown great accuracy, with a study reporting 93% correct responses for imaging-related queries. Factors influencing the reliability of AI responses include avoiding stacked questions, transparency in information sources, and the complexity of medical topics lacking definitive answers.

Another area where AI shines is in patient education, where large language models can streamline information and simplify complex medical jargon. By translating materials into different languages, AI can enhance communication between patients and healthcare providers, reducing barriers to understanding medical instructions and improving overall health literacy.

As a primary care physician, I see the potential of AI to connect patients with reliable medical information, enhancing the quality of office visits and addressing health concerns collaboratively. While improvements in reliability are necessary, artificial intelligence has the opportunity to revolutionize patient care and empower individuals to make informed healthcare decisions.

Olivia Hilal, a family medicine resident, envisions a future where AI serves as the conduit for meaningful interactions between patients and healthcare providers, transforming the way medical information is accessed and understood.