Some entrepreneurs are betting that generative A.I. tech like ChatGPT can provide a solution to the medical industry’s burnout crisis.
Luke Kervin, Tebra’s founder, says that if A.I. can help providers to stave off burnout by increasing efficiency, saving costs, and allowing them to spend less time on admin work and more time helping people, it will likely see mass adoption by the industry. “When we talk to our providers about what keeps them up at night, it’s always burnout,” adds Kervin, “and a lot of that burnout comes from having so much admin work to do.”
Another company working on A.I.-powered solutions for both providers and patients is New York-based mental health employee benefits company Spring Health, which has raised nearly $400 million and attained a $2.5 billion valuation since its 2016 founding. Once a client has signed up for the service, they fill out a short assessment containing a series of questions about both their medical history and the current state of their mental health. The company’s machine-learning algorithm then crafts a personalized care plan that includes both wellness recommendations like daily routines, and specific recommendations for nearby mental health care providers.
Chekroud is also excited about the possibility of integrating chatbots as a way of helping people find providers who are a perfect fit for them, and described one prototype in development. “Our chatbot could ask, ‘Is there anything you want us to know that would help us find you a provider?’” According to Chekroud, the patient could answer with something like, “I’m very religious and I want a provider who could do faith-based treatment” or “I’m going through some gender identity issues and I want to have a provider that understands that.” The chatbot would then scan through the Spring Health network to surface providers with those desired traits.
A small number of providers are even beginning to use A.I. to help them make diagnoses by using tools such as Med-PaLM, Google’s large language model for medical information. But when it comes to using chatbots as virtual therapists, Chekroud is much less convinced. He concedes that generative A.I. is surprisingly capable of imitating empathy, “but we still have this fundamental problem that you’re talking to a robot. A robot can’t know what you’re going through. Nothing can replace that human connection.”