The Bot Will Help You Now — How We See AI and ChatGPT Supporting Clinicians and Patient Education

Brad Crotty MD MPH
Inception Health
Published in
3 min readDec 20, 2022

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Courtney Wack
Patient Education Specialist

Communication in healthcare is constantly evolving. Healthcare providers used to have a handwritten shorthand of abbreviations and symbols to communicate with each other. Now it would be a fun party game to try to guess some of these:

These context-specific abbreviations and acronyms can be challenging to decipher. The common abbreviation for of “QD” (every day) could be confused with “QID” (4 times/day) and lead to a bad situation.

At the same time, patients became more involved in their care and the 21st Century Cures Act lifted the curtain for medical progress notes, radiology and lab reports, and so much more. If documentation could be challenging for other clinicians, how would patients find them?

Providers needed to adjust their documentation as it was now becoming another patient communication vehicle. While the OpenNotes research study showed that most (2/3) of providers did not change the way they write notes, and exceptionally few were spending time out of visits explaining notes, it was not lost that notes *could* be a more powerful patient education tool if they could somehow be ‘translated’ and made more decipherable by patients.

As technology continues to advance, you have to wonder what will be the next big shift for healthcare communication and education. In our everyday word, we all have experience with artificial intelligence (AI) communication. Whether it is the small “help” chat box on your PC, the phone call loop you are stuck in until you can get to an operator or the family friend named “Alexa”, “Siri”, or “Google”.

Medical jargon has always had its own category of communication. But AI is improving so fast, could a bot write better than a well-trained medical provider? Some providers can write a medical journal article with ease, but may find writing a simple explanation of a lab result difficult.

Everyone is talking about ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence bot that can write essays, poems, computer programs, and medical letters. You can type into ChatGPT “explain to a patient they they have high blood pressure and 3 strategies to manage it” and it will produce a 4 paragraph perfectly formed patient education piece. You could even follow that up with “write something more concise” or “now write that at a 5th grade reading level”.

Check out this example:

In a prior blog post here, Nathan Chapman wrote about the Inception Labs team’s work with GPT-2 and other language models. One of the team’s research projects was to translate a colonoscopy report, complete with jargon, into an easy way for patients to understand them. ChatGPT has clearly improved upon that work, fluently writing letters that explain.

Undoubtedly, some things will be wrong. ChatGPT is a language model that responds based on strength of associations, not ground truth.

Nonetheless, the research preview that OpenAI shared with the world is clearly powerful. (may even help educate payors.. see below)

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for patient education and AI. For now, click here for some writing tips for humans at Froedtert still writing their own patient education.

and please remember:

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Brad Crotty MD MPH
Inception Health

Chief Medical Officer, Inception Health | Chief Digital Engagement Officer, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Health Network