Why Phoenix Children's is embracing an 'experimental' approach to ChatGPT

As hospitals and health systems begin to navigate potential use cases for generative AI technology such as ChatGPT in healthcare, David Higginson, chief innovation officer of Phoenix Children's Hospital, told Becker's that he isn't "over regulating" the technology just yet and is encouraging staff to experiment. 

"I'm hesitant to say that staff should come through me as the CIO to get permission to use this," Mr. Higginson said. "I want people to experiment in a safe way."

Mr. Higginson said he wants physicians and staff to be conscious of what they put into ChatGPT as it is a public domain, and that the technology is not yet ready for diagnosis work, but for uses that aren't direct patient care. He encourages staff to experiment and to be inquisitive about the technology.  

"Our approach is allow people to use the tool, experiment with it, but be cautious about it," Mr. Higginson said. "And when they think they have something, then let's talk about it and figure out how to operationalize it."

Mr. Higginson said there are myriad use cases for this technology, but that Phoenix Children's Hospital isn't looking at how it should be incorporated at patients' bedsides just yet, and said the organization is "getting its feet wet."

"For me, GPT feels like a new grad out of college," Mr. Higginson said. "It has lots of information, it is performing in the top 5 percent of its class, but it doesn't have a lot of experience yet and doesn't have a lot of the nuances, but who doesn't want a new grad working for them?"

Mr. Higginson said this is why he isn't ready to start building a governance committee to regulate the use of ChatGPT.

"My mantra at the moment is let's experiment, let's be cautious, and let's see what's possible," Mr. Higginson said. "I'm looking at use cases where ChatGPT can do well."

Right now, Phoenix Children's Hospital is looking at how the technology can relieve administrative burdens for its staff, including how ChatGPT can answer patient inquiries, and asking ChatGPT questions about policies and procedures.

"We're focusing on use cases that can make people's lives easier, not if the technology can cure cancer or give someone a diagnosis," Mr. Higginson said. "I think that will come, but we're not ready for that just yet." 

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