ChatGPT’s Bedside Manner Beats Doctors’

By: James Flippin · May 03, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Study

Researchers from some of the nation’s biggest medical universities recently conducted a study testing the bedside manner of OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT against actual doctors.

The group posed 195 questions sourced from Reddit’s r/AskDocs forum to both verified physicians and ChatGPT, then compared the accuracy and empathy displayed in the answers. The result? Almost 80% of medical experts preferred ChatGPT’s responses to those of the physicians.

While 195 questions is a small sample size, this data still suggests that, for an AI language model, ChatGPT is capable of demonstrating a surprising amount of empathy.

The GPT Difference

The general takeaway from the study was that ChatGPT’s answers tended to be longer and more personable than the doctors’. When answering a question, the chatbot would usually express condolences, thoroughly explain the diagnosis, and suggest an array of treatments.

On the other hand, physicians’ answers tended to be more blunt and to-the-point. The doctors would explain the facts, but wouldn’t always take the time to console the patient or offer in-depth advice.

Part of the reason for this divide may be that behind each physician’s response was a real person — and likely a busy one — typing out an answer. Meanwhile, language models like ChatGPT can generate paragraphs or even essays in a matter of seconds.

Paging DocGPT?

So does AI pose a threat to doctors’ jobs? Well, no. ChatGPT isn’t a replacement for doctors. It is known for stating false information with confidence, after all. Also, the chatbot’s diagnoses were given in response to anonymous questions, and no follow-up exams were given to assess its accuracy. Indeed, it’s unclear how ChatGPT could ever conduct an accurate exam on its own.

But this new data does suggest that doctors could lean on ChatGPT and other generative AI models to make their lives easier. These tools could free up time, reduce clinical visits, and allow physicians to focus more on higher-level tasks — so long as patients are open to foregoing the personal touch.

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