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I’m an ER doctor: Here’s what AI startups get wrong about “ChatGPT for telehealth”

25 Sep 2023 11:42 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

I’m an ER doctor: Here’s what AI startups get wrong about “ChatGPT for telehealth” The explosion of telehealth might seem like a huge opportunity for AI. But it is also a huge risk. [Fast Company]

As a practicing ER doctor, I’m quite excited by the potential of LLMs like ChatGPT for health care. I already use it as a communication tool for some of my patients, and sometimes feed ChatGPT detailed prompts of patient symptoms to generate possible diagnoses I haven’t yet considered.

As a part-time advisor to healthtech startups, however, I’m increasingly concerned that many in Silicon Valley are confusing the capabilities of LLMs as they relate to the practice of medicine. Especially telehealth.

The omnibus bill President Biden signed last January extends telehealth flexibilities on patient appointments and insurance coverage through December 31, 2024. Assuming insurers continue following suit until then, we have about a year to deliver on the promise of telehealth.

This might seem like a glowing opportunity for a program like ChatGPT. Thanks to the pandemic, virtual care/telehealth is now a standard procedure, with roughly 1 in 4 patient appointments conducted remotely. So why not integrate an LLM into the remote treatment process, acting as a virtual nurse practitioner which communicates to patients through text? Indeed, there are already a number of startups roughly based on that use case.

After treating thousands of people remotely since the COVID era, I should explain in vivid detail how bad an idea this is. 



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