ChatGPT: AI language model could be used to diagnose patients and help reduce A&E wait times

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The team said that ChatGPT was “able to suggest medical diagnoses much like a human doctor would” but more work is needed

Patients could be diagnosed via ChatGPT in a way to reduce waiting times in emergency departments.

Researchers have suggested the language model, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), “performed well” in generating a list of diagnoses for patients and suggesting the most likely option.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The study led by Dr Hidde ten Berg and Dr Steef Kurstjens from Jeroen Bosch Hospital in s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands entered the records of 30 patients who visited an emergency department in 2022, as well as anonymous doctors’ notes, into ChatGPT versions 3.5 and 4.0.

A general view of the Chat GPT website. (Image: John Walton/PA Wire)A general view of the Chat GPT website. (Image: John Walton/PA Wire)
A general view of the Chat GPT website. (Image: John Walton/PA Wire) | John Walton/PA Wire

The AI analysis compared to two clinicians who made a diagnosis based on the same information, both with and without laboratory data.

When lab data was included, doctors had the correct answer in their top five differential diagnoses in 87% of cases, compared with 97% for ChatGPT 3.5 and 87% for ChatGPT 4.0.

There was a 60% overlap between the differential diagnoses by clinicians and ChatGPT.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The team said that while ChatGPT was “able to suggest medical diagnoses much like a human doctor would”, more work is needed before it is applied in the real world.

Dr ten Berg said ChatGPT made a list of likely diagnoses and suggested the most likely option, adding: “We also found a lot of overlap with the doctors’ lists of likely diagnoses. Simply put, this indicates that ChatGPT was able to suggest medical diagnoses much like a human doctor would.

“For example, we included a case of a patient presenting with joint pain that was alleviated with painkillers, but redness, joint pain and swelling always recurred. In the previous days, the patient had a fever and sore throat. A few times there was a discolouration of the fingertips.

“Based on the physical exam and additional tests, the doctors thought the most likely diagnosis was probably rheumatic fever, but ChatGPT was correct with its most likely diagnosis of vasculitis.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Dr ten Berg stressed ChatGPT “is not a medical device” and there are “concerns over privacy” when using the programme with medical data.

“However, there is potential here for saving time and reducing waiting times in the emergency department,” he added.

“The benefit of using artificial intelligence could be in supporting doctors with less experience, or it could help in spotting rare diseases.”

The findings of the study – published in the medical journal Annals of Emergency Medicine – will be presented at the European Emergency Medicine Congress (EUSEM) 2023 in Barcelona.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Professor Youri Yordanov, of St Antoine Hospital emergency department in Paris, is chairman of the EUSEM 2023 abstract committee.

He added: “We are a long way from using ChatGPT in the clinic, but it’s vital that we explore new technology and consider how it could be used to help doctors and their patients.

“People who need to go to the emergency department want to be seen as quickly as possible and to have their problem correctly diagnosed and treated. I look forward to more research in this area and hope that it might ultimately support the work of busy health professionals.”

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.