Is ChatGPT a threat to medicine?

ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI, has taken the world by storm. But how will its rising popularity affect the world of medicine? 

Three physicians connected with Becker's to answer, "Is ChatGPT a threat to medicine?"

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Stephen Amann, MD. Gastroenterologist at Digestive Health Specialists (Tupelo, Miss.): I don't think ChatGPT is a threat to medicine directly but clearly will change the paradigm of healthcare. The question is how? This technology and artificial intelligence is out there and not going away. There are many unknowns about the technology, but [it] will be ready for all to use for their benefit or peril. There are flaws, and many of the answers presently [available] for health-related issues are general. This is likely good because healthcare is individual to each patient and the physician-patient relationship is needed to incorporate specific patient issues, expectations, desires and needs into the treatment plan. I believe it will help patients have more informed discussions with their healthcare team and realize that ChatGPT is not a replacement for direct patient care.

ChatGPT may help clinicians in decision algorithms and informatics, which is powerful in itself. 

Questions remain: Will this technology 1) help automate/facilitate expert consultations 2) keep up-to-date treatments and information at the fingertips of patients and clinicians alike 3) work within the current EMR structure, or better yet, change it so that this information can be used for better patient care and efficiency 4) elevate knowledge base of all caregivers but allow for personalized healthcare delivery and not rigid algorithms?

Current concerns for this technology: 1) Will ChatGPT be considered the expert? I hope not. 2) All care will be centralized to specific algorithms/plans and not allow deviation. 3) Will insurance and payers link to this platform as the "be all" as a way to control and limit care covered? 4) Will this continue to erode the physician-patient relationship and push care delivery to interpreters of data at the lowest cost and not empower all the nuances learned in years of training that healthcare providers go through and then share in each and every shared decision they make with patients?

Bhagwan Satiani, MD. Professor of Surgery Emeritus in the Department of Surgery at the Ohio State University (Columbus): We will see. Physicians worried when patients brought newspaper clippings, etc., during office or pre-op visits to ask more questions or certain options. It made me more comfortable that I was dealing with well-informed people. I told many patients who had no questions, "I bet you spend more time researching buying a car than asking about a major life-threatening procedure. So, bring someone else with you next time or tape it so you can share it with your family." Yes, sometimes it can be irritating, but in general the more well-informed the patient, the better.

Marilyn Vanover, MD. OB-GYN at North Central Baptist Hospital (San Antonio): I do not know. I am not familiar enough with the topic. I am 69 years old and am glad that my world in OB-GYN was one of incorporating knowledge, experience, wisdom of peers and listening for God's will for uncharted waters. My international missionary experience brought me great confidence in medicine. I saw UpToDate as the new Bible for practitioners. I am glad that I am not going to have to navigate ChatGPT versus my previously listed experiences. 

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