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Many Seniors Are Overmedicated, But ChatGPT Might Prevent That
  • Posted April 18, 2024

Many Seniors Are Overmedicated, But ChatGPT Might Prevent That

AI could help doctors cut back on the bewildering variety of medications that seniors frequently are prescribed, a new study suggests.

More than 40% of seniors are prescribed five or more meds, and this increases a person's risk of adverse drug interactions, researchers said.

When asked to evaluate faux medication lists of seniors, the OpenAI program ChatGPT consistently recommended dropping potentially unnecessary drugs, according to findings published April 18 in the Journal of Medical Systems.

“Our findings suggest that AI-based tools can play an important role in ensuring safe medication practices for older adults,” said lead researcher Arya Rao, a student at Harvard Medical School. “It is imperative that we continue to refine these tools to account for the complexities of medical decision-making.”

For the study, researchers asked AI to analyze different clinical scenarios featuring the same elderly patient taking a mixture of medications. The scenarios included variations in history of heart disease and the degree to which people are impaired in performing activities of daily living.

The AI was more cautious when the scenario included heart disease, and was more likely to not request changes to the patient's medication list.

However, a patient's daily impairment did not seem to affect the AI's recommendations, researchers added.

The AI did have a tendency to disregard a patient's pain, and favored dropping pain meds over other drug types like statins or blood pressure medications, researchers found.

It's become increasingly tough for doctors to keep track of patients' prescriptions, researchers noted. The rate of seniors on Medicare seeing more specialists has increased, leaving primary care docs the task of overseeing medication management.

“While caution should be taken to increase accuracy of such models, AI-assisted [medication] management could help alleviate the increasing burden on general practitioners,” said senior researcher Dr. Marc Succi, associate chair of innovation and commercialization at Mass General Brigham Radiology in Boston.

“Further research with specifically trained AI tools may significantly enhance the care of aging patients,” Succi added in a hospital news release.

More information

Johns Hopkins Medicine has more on long medication lists for seniors.

SOURCE: Mass General Brigham, news release, April 17, 2024

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