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News » AI boosts empathy in doctor-patient communication – study

AI boosts empathy in doctor-patient communication – study

CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES — Amid the stigma surrounding artificial intelligence’s (AI) use in healthcare, a study published in the JAMA Network Open found that the AI tool did not reduce response time but assisted doctors in crafting longer, compassionate drafts.

According to Ming Tai-Seale, PhD, the study’s lead author and professor of family medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, the tool helps physicians overcome writer’s block. 

Reducing physician burden with AI-drafted responses

Physicians receive a large number of inquiries every week, and responding to these is part of their duty in addition to their equally critical day-to-day healthcare tasks.

“This study shows that generative AI can be a collaborative tool,” Tai-Seale said.

“Our physicians receive about 200 messages a week. AI could help break ‘writer’s block’ by providing physicians an empathy-infused draft upon which to craft thoughtful responses to patients.”

How the AI messaging system works

The AI tool generates an initial draft response based on the patient’s message and medical history. Physicians can then edit the draft for content and tone before sending it to the patient. This “human-in-the-loop” approach ensures accuracy and appropriateness.

UC San Diego Health has been piloting the use of generative AI in its Epic electronic health record (EHR) system to help physicians draft more empathetic responses to patient messages. 

“AI doesn’t get tired, so even at the end of a long day, it still has the capacity to help draft an empathetic message while synthesizing the request and relevant data into the response,” said study co-author Marlene Millen, MD, chief medical information officer for ambulatory care at UC San Diego Health. 

Read more here.

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