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Doctors Still Beat AI in Offering Accurate Medical Advice: Study
  • Posted April 3, 2024

Doctors Still Beat AI in Offering Accurate Medical Advice: Study

It might be too soon to rely solely on machine learning for health advice, a new study finds.

After pitting the latest AI against actual human physicians, the doctors easily won, reports a team led by Dr. Andrei Brateanu, of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

For now anyway, "AI tools should not be seen as substitutes for medical professionals," he said. "Instead, they can be considered as additional resources that, when combined with human expertise, can enhance the overall quality of information provided."

As the researchers noted, consumers can already harness the power of web searches or AI programs like ChatGPT-4 or Google Bard whenever they have medical questions.

But how accurate are the answers?

To find out, Brateanu's team posed 56 common medical questions to either ChatGPT-4 and Bard. They then had two physicians review the answers for accuracy (a third doctor was brought in to settle things when the two doctors disagreed).

Of the two AI programs, Bard seemed to outperform ChatGPT, although both had relatively low levels of accuracy, the study found.

For example, the physicians found 53.6% of Bard's answers accurate, 17.8% inaccurate and 28.6% partially accurate.

ChatGPT performed worse:  Just 28.6% of answers were accurate, 28.6% inaccurate, and 42.8% were partially accurate but incomplete, the researchers said.

They reported the findings recently in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The bottom line, according to Brateanu: AI programs "can offer medical information that may look very accurate and convincing, when in fact it may be occasionally inaccurate."

"The fact that both models produced responses with inaccuracies or omitted crucial information highlights the ongoing challenge of developing AI tools that can provide dependable medical advice," he added in a journal news release.

His advice? Head to AI for medical information, but always run it by your doctor afterwards.

"As we incorporate AI technology into healthcare, it's crucial to ensure that the essence of healthcare continues to be fundamentally human," Brateanu said.

More information

Find out more about the role of AI in health care at the Pew Research Center.

SOURCE: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, news release, April 1, 2024

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