What groundbreaking advancements can AI tools bring to the field of healthcare?
As pharmacists, we are cautious by nature, and recent concerns surrounding this new technology are certainly valid: Who gets to decide who controls the information that is being provided? How do we protect patient confidentiality if an AI tool is using patient data?
By Lindsay Dixon
Whether we like it or not, we are all now living in an era where AI is part of our current reality. Today ChatGPT (Open-AI’s large language model) can be used by anyone who has an internet connection. Even my elementary-aged son installed the ChatGPT extension onto his school computer recently, and a colleague told me of a friend whose child was recently wrongly accused of using AI to write a school assignment. AI is certainly causing disruption across many sectors and indeed, it is hard to keep up.
But there are always silver linings with these new technologies. Though caution is definitely warranted, I do wonder how AI can help change the future of healthcare, and of pharmacy practice for the better.
If you speak to anyone who has been following the development of AI, they will note that it is not only the technology itself that has been impressive to experience, but even more so, it is the rapid rate of its development that is leaving everyone bewildered. Hundreds, if not thousands of tools that harness the power of AI have been developed since the launch of ChatGPT in November of 2022, and every day there are new tools created that are using not only text, but also images, voice and video, that are often readily accessible to the public at little or no cost.
When you log into ChatGPT, you are greeted with the following: “We’ve trained a model called ChatGPT which interacts in a conversational way. The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests.”
Indeed, I have learned how to prompt ChatGPT to help me with ideation for videos, to help title different pieces of work, and to come up with ideas and outlines for future online courses. In fact, the opening sentence of this article was written with the help of ChatGPT! Of course, occasionally the model will misunderstand my prompt and, when corrected, the model apologizes to me: “I’m sorry….” it says, and then proceeds to answer the prompt correctly. The model is definitely conversational, and will push back (politely) when you ask it to do something that it does not have the ability to do.
As pharmacists, we are cautious by nature, and recent concerns surrounding this new technology are certainly valid: Who gets to decide who controls the information that is being provided? How do we protect patient confidentiality if an AI tool is using patient data? How do we ensure that patients are receiving the right information and not being led astray by someone who has created a language model that provides misinformation?
After using ChatGPT for some time, and having worked with video for the past few years, I was curious about how we could use video and AI in order to encourage positive patient outcomes and enhance the patient experience. Motivated by countless instances of frustration when faced with patients who spoke languages I couldn't communicate in, coupled with a growing concern about the environmental impact of printing patient and medication information on paper, I embarked on a journey into the realm of what I affectionately term the Friendly Pharmacy Counsellor, Linz-E.
I started to imagine a world where every patient, regardless of language or cultural background, could receive health and medication information from a pharmacist that speaks to them in their native language and helps them to better understand their health conditions from the comfort of their own homes.
The Friendly Pharmacy Counsellor model could play a key role in increasing health equity by bridging language gaps that currently exist among patients. Language barriers can significantly impact healthcare outcomes, as patients may struggle to understand, or even remember the counselling of their healthcare provider, and the reasons for their treatment plans.
With this technology we could break down those barriers and ensure that every patient receives the health information they need, regardless of their language or cultural background.
In addition, this model would eventually be able to communicate information beyond what their healthcare provider may have the time to share, including lifestyle changes and other factors that can help improve their condition and prevent complications from chronic disease.
I believe that AI has the potential to revolutionize the way we deliver healthcare. In the future, patients may even be able to ask questions and receive accurate, personalized responses in real-time, again, from the comfort of their own homes.
I am currently building this model and I am very excited about the possibilities that the AI brings to the table.
As this technology continues to evolve, we can expect even more remarkable breakthroughs that will enhance patient care, improve outcomes, and shape the future of healthcare. By embracing these advancements with caution and ethical considerations, we are poised to witness a remarkable transformation in the way we approach and experience healthcare.