Technology

Op-Comic: Is AI more empathetic than your doctor?

The scene is a patient-doctor role-play. Medical educators try to teach doctors effective and compassionate communication.
Medicine taught many doctors how to turn off our empathy switches for procedural effectiveness, efficiency or survival.

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Sometimes we need to flip the switch off. But when we forget how to turn it back on, we struggle to connect with patients.
I wasn't surprised to hear that AI system ChatGPT recently bested us in a test of empathetic communication.
When nearly 63% of doctors report signs of burnout, consistently feeling emotional connection with patients seems unlikely.
But if the real purpose of empathy is to alert us to a person in need, then I welcome the help of AI or anything that helps.
Maybe AI can help me find the right words or open my eyes to a diagnosis. Ultimately it can't replace human presence.

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Nathan Gray is an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and an artist who draws comics on medical topics. @NathanAGray

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