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AI generated image for chronically ill patient
Hypotenuse AI.

ChatGPT has become the fastest-growing consumer application in history. According to CNN, the artificial intelligence chat from OpenAI has demonstrated it would pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), the series of exams required for medical professionals to obtain a license to practice medicine in the United States.

The buzzworthy tool, capable of answering questions through text or text-to-speech dialogue, similar to human-like communication via technology, has garnered attention from medical professionals and scientists who seek to understand its limitations and potential uses in health care.

So what does this mean for you? And how can we leverage this new technology to improve the lives of people like you, living with chronic illness?

The Global Healthy Living Foundation will be doing research and exploration on its own to seek these answers. We will be following AI closely and working with our patient community to determine how this tool can be used to help you better manage your disease and work with your health providers, health insurance companies, and loved ones to advocate for yourself and get the best possible care.

In the meantime, let’s take closer a look at AI – what it is, how it works, and how our patient community is starting to use it in their lives.

What Is an AI Chatbot?

If you haven’t heard of AI chatbots like ChatGPT (which according to analysts, has already reached 100 million users), you will soon. Microsoft, one of the world’s largest and pioneering technology and computer software companies, just announced a $10 billion investment in OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT and the image AI tool DALLE. They’ve also added AI technology to its Bing search engine. Not surprisingly,  Google has also announced plans to release its own competitor: an artificial intelligence chatbot called Bard.

Other up-and-coming AI technologies are being developed by Meta, Amazon, and SenseTime.

AI chatbots can answer questions, pull data, and provide customized solutions and information through powerful data processing technology and access to large databases of information. In this way, a Chatbot may be utilized as an AI-backed “virtual personal assistant.”

Understanding AI and Health Care

In their comprehensive two-year published study on the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence for Health, the World Health Organization identified guidelines for the use and application of this technology within health care. According to the report, “artificial intelligence (AI) has enormous potential for strengthening the delivery of health care and medicine and helping all countries achieve universal health coverage.”

The report pointed to a few key areas where AI could help, including:

  • Improving diagnosis and clinical care
  • Enhancing health research and drug development
  • Assisting with the deployment of different public health interventions (disease surveillance, outbreak response, and health systems management)

However, the WHO also pointed to several incumbent challenges, including ensuring that “ethics and human rights are put at the heart of its design, deployment, and use.” Famed Nobel Laureate in Physics, Stephen Hawking was quoted: “Our future is a race between the growing power of technology and the wisdom with which we use it.” In other words, with great power comes great responsibility.

What Are the Pros and Cons of AI

With the proper training in digital skills, AI can empower patients to take control of their own health care and health care needs and provide valuable services to poor and under-resourced countries and communities, which are otherwise left without sufficient access to health care and medical professionals.

While this technology continues to advance rapidly, it should be viewed as supplementary at this point and its information should be approached with caution.

“Like all new technology, artificial intelligence holds enormous potential for improving the health of millions of people around the world,” stated Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization Director-General, in the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence for Health study, “but like all technology it can also be misused and cause harm.”

What We’ve Discovered

With a little experimentation, we were able to quickly get results for the following, which you’ll see in the coming months:

  • An appeal letter to an insurance company
  • A letter to your partner about living with chronic pain
  • Tips for determining if your biologic has stopped working
  • Questions to ask your doctor about fatigue
  • A list of low-impact exercise for arthritis
  • A step-by-step guide for organizing medical bills
  • An image representing living with chronic pain (pictured above)
  • And more…

GHLF community member g4sue wrote on Instagram that they used ChatGPT for managing a recent flare. “[It’s] very important to ask specific questions and continue the conversation to clarity results. I asked for traditional, holistic, and integrative medical advice to get multiple perspectives.”

Shelley Fritz, a patient advocate and fellow at GHLF who lives with rheumatoid arthritis asked ChatGPT to produce a Dr. Seuss-inspired poem about RA. “I’m not sure I agree with everything here,” she says, “seems a bit idealistic.”

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease, quite a pain,  

It affects the joints and can cause a lot of strain. 

The joints become swollen, stiff, and red,  

It can cause trouble, like walking out of bed. 

But don’t fret, there’s help, you see,  

With medicine and therapy, you can be free,  

From the pain and aches, that make you say “ouch,”  

With a plan, you’ll regain your gait and bounce. 

We Want to Hear From You

What do you think? While we are impressed, we are equally cautious. We know in our hearts and minds that nothing can replace the content that comes from our community – from the stories and shared lived experience of real patients, the empathy of caregivers, and the experience and knowledge of health care professionals who are seeing patients face-to-face. Still, we’d be remiss not to explore yet another tool to help educate and empower our patient community.

How are you using AI to manage your health? Email us at info@ghlf.org, with the subject line “AI and My Care” and share your experiences with chatbots and your health care.

Christensen J. “Paging Dr. AI? What ChatGPT and artificial intelligence could mean for the future of medicine.” CNN. February 3, 2023. https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/02/health/artificial-intelligence-medicine/index.html.

Duffy C. Microsoft unveils revamped Bing search engine using AI technology more powerful than ChatGPT. CNN. February 7, 2023. https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/07/tech/microsoft-ai-event/index.html.

Ethics and governance of artificial intelligence for health. World Health Organization. 2021. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240029200.

Pichai S.nAn important next step on our AI journey. Google. February 6, 2023. https://blog.google/technology/ai/bard-google-ai-search-updates/.

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