The AI physician will see you now — but do patients want to see them?

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Researchers from Philadelphia-based Penn State and the University of California, Santa Barbara found that patients are less likely to take advice from an artificial intelligence physician when it knows their name and medical history.

According to a May 10 news release, researchers designed five chatbots for a study with 295 participants and paired them with either a human physician, AI chatbot, or AI-assisted physician.

Four study findings:

  1. When AI chatbots used the first name of patients and referred to their medical history, study participants were more likely to find the bot intrusive and less likely to take the bot's medical advice.

  2. However, with human physicians, patients wanted to be called by their first name, wanted physicians to differentiate them from other patients and were less likely to comply when the physicians didn't remember their information.

  3. AI medical providers may provide cost-effective medical services. However, this can backfire if the patient is unwilling to accept the chats' medical advice.

  4. About 78 percent of participants who interacted with a human physician believe that they were interacting with an AI physician. Researchers speculate that patients may have become more accustomed to online health platforms during the pandemic and may have expected a richer interaction with a human physician.

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