How you should and shouldn't use ChatGPT for medical advice (2023)

How you should and shouldn't use ChatGPT for medical advice (1)

Fact confirmed by Nick Blackmer

  • Experts say people should be careful when using artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT to seek medical advice.

  • While ChatGPT can be used to understand certain conditions or symptoms, it can also provide incorrect information or lead to misdiagnosis.

  • If you have questions about your health, experts recommend contacting your healthcare provider rather than relying on services like ChatGPT.

Although the Internet has made medical information more accessible than ever, it is not always easy to understand. One way to overcome this challenge is to use artificial intelligence (AI) based tools like OpenAIChat-GPT,Google Bard, AndMicrosoft Bing.

ChatGPT already has itMore than 100 million users, and this number will continue to grow, as published by OpenAIOfficial iOS mobile app.

These tools can answer questions in seconds and immediately generate easy-to-understand answers. While most of them offer premium plans, the basic functionality of these tools is free.

Learn more:Risks of using the Internet for self-diagnosis

Compared to arranging an in-person visit with a healthcare provider, using ChatGPT seems like a cheaper, more convenient, and easier way to get the help you need. Plus, it can answer almost any question you ask, although not necessarily correctly. However, experts say it should not be used to address health concerns or provide medical advice about you.

"Given the potentially high risk that people will misinterpret such information or apply it to their health, such unregulated devices should not be used for medical advice."Jonathan Chen, MD, PhDassistant professor of medicine and doctor-scientist at Stanford University School of Medicine told Verywell. "Given that patients and doctors may already be doing this, they need to understand what they're actually getting and what they're doing."

You should be with thatshould notUse AI to solve health problems and the harm they could cause, if you choose.

When is ChatGPT safe to use for health-related questions?

Although AI services like ChatGPT should not be used for medical advice,Rigved Tadwalkar, MD, a board-certified cardiologist at Providence St. John's Health Center, told Verywell that they can be used to provide general information about health conditions, specific medications, diseases, and other medical topics.

For example, if you want to learn more about the flu, AI tools can provide answers about symptoms, causes, risk factors, and treatments. These tools are also useful if you want to learn more about a particular drug — for example, why it's used and what the possible side effects are.

[ChatGPT] is more of an informative tool than a diagnostic and definitive recommendation as most would like it to be.

Tadwalkar says these tools can be useful resources, especially for simple things.

"This is where things like artificial intelligence can really come into play and we're seeing a level of reliability in the response," he said.

Tools like ChatGPT can also be used to summarize or explain information in non-medical terms, particularly from reliable medical sources, websites and academic studies, Chen said.

These tools can also be useful reference and interlocutors to help people prepare for doctor appointments — for example, they can ask the robot what information to bring and what questions to ask their doctor at their next appointment.

When a patient is falsely reassured by a chatbot and refuses to seek real medical help, delaying or failing to make a critical diagnosis can have devastating consequences.

Preliminary research shows that ChatGPT is better than previous online symptom-checking tools at guessing a medical diagnosis and suggesting appropriate "triage" — that is, advising a person to stay home, see their doctor, or go to an emergency room anyway Chen says the tools are wrong10% of the time.

"It's more of an informational tool than a diagnostic and definitive recommendation, which is what most people would like," Tadwalkar said. "In many cases it's a great source of information, but it's not the bottom line because it's not at that level yet."

Learn more:Study: Googling your symptoms may lead to a better diagnosis

Why you shouldn't use ChatGPT for medical advice

Although ChatGPT can be beneficial in certain situations, Tadwalkar said people should not rely on the tool for definitive medical advice as the answers and recommendations may not be accurate.

"Many people may not be aware of this fact or take it lightly, but ChatGPT sometimes lies," he said. "This is where it gets dangerous."

In addition, patients who rely on ChatGPT for medical information about their symptoms may panic unnecessarily, Chen said.

"Both overdiagnosis and underdiagnosis have dangers," Chen said. "Obviously, if a patient is falsely reassured by a chatbot and refuses to seek real medical help, delaying or not making a critical diagnosis, such as a heart attack or cancer, would be devastating."

Another disadvantage of using ChatGPT is that it may not take into account new and developing medical research. As technology changes rapidly, chatbot responses can easily be incorrect and outdated.

Unless entered, ChatGPT and other AI services do not consider a patient's personalized information such as family history, general medical history, medication use, diet, weight, height and other lifestyle factors, Tadwalkar said. As a result, patients using the Service may not receive accurate medical advice regarding their specific diagnosis and treatment options.

“Users don't often enter information at this level. And even if they did, I'm not sure the AI ​​would be able to see all of that," he said.

Learn more:A chatbot can answer your COVID questions

What you should know before seeking medical advice from ChatGPT

If you decide to use ChatGPT or any other AI service for medical questions and concerns, experts say there are a few things to keep in mind and some best practices to follow.

Be specific and provide details

Make sure you provide enough details relevant to the question you are asking. For example, if you're trying to figure out what your cough might be, add how long you've been coughing and if you have other symptoms like fever and chills, Tadwalkar said.

You may also want to add some general information about your medical background, such as: B. whether you have a historyAsthmaorChronic obstructive pulmonary disease(Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Be careful when giving out personal information

It's okay to enter general information about your medical condition, but Chen says you must be careful not to give the chatbot any personal information. When you use a tool to share personal information, like your date of birth or a list of all your medications, that information is also shared with the company that owns the technology.

"When you enter (copy and paste) personal medical information into these systems, you're uploading private information to a big tech company to let them do whatever they want," he said.

However, users can solve this problem by explaining the general problem. For example, you could try asking:I have a friend in his 60's who is 3 months oldchronic dry cough.What diagnoses and tests should they consider?

Learn more:ChatGPT is ideal for conducting medical license exams. But can it replace doctors?

Do your research and check the sources

Chen says you should do more research and cross-reference any medical advice you receive — whether it's from a chatbot, an internet source, or even a human provider.

Use current and reliable sources—such as government or educational sources (such as .gov or .edu sites). This ensures that you have accurate and up-to-date health information.

Despite these recommendations, both Tadwalkar and Chen say that if you contact ChatGPT for medical advice, you should try to get their advicehumanityProvider personally ortelemedicineAccess.

"Patients should continue to see their doctor," Tadwalkar said. “I think AI chatbots like ChatGPT are just free. It's just another tool in the toolbox. For example, if you google something, you still go to your doctor to see if there is a specific accuracy. I would do the same with these AI chatbots.”

While artificial intelligence (AI) services like ChatGPT can be useful educational tools, experts say they should not be relied on for medical advice. If you use an AI chatbot for health information, you should still contact your provider for personalized care.

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