Can artificial intelligence improve doctor-patient interactions?


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare has garnered much attention in recent years, particularly in terms of how AI could support the management of complex conditions. Now researchers have suggested that AI could also be used to improve communication between clinicians and patients. 

According to Professor Glyn Elwyn from Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in the USA, although many clinicians' communications skills are not formerly assessed, there is significant evidence that clinicians often struggle when communicating with patients. 

Elwyn and colleagues in Ireland and Scotland suggest AI has the potential to revolutionise communication in medicine by providing clinicians with "personalised, highly detailed assessments of their communication skills." They suggest AI could be used to record interactions and analyse words and phrases used in consultations to help assess whether clinicians are providing information to patients in accessible language, eliciting patient views and pausing to offer patients the opportunity to talk. It could also assess turn-taking and tone and style in interactions. 

Writing in the BMJ, the researchers suggest that useful analysis of clinicians’ intonation and turn-taking will be feasible in a few years, but say it is unclear whether clinicians will be open to the use of such tools.