Professional creep is seen throughout medicine. This article explores how the open AI platform known as ChatGPT may creep on WebMD and physicians.
By Aaron Morgenstein and Liudmila Schafer
Professional “creep” refers to the phenomenon where the responsibilities and expectations of a particular profession gradually expand beyond their original scope and begins to overlap with other professions. This can occur due to various factors, such as technological changes, societal expectations shifts, and personal and financial gains. Professional creep can be both positive and negative.
As physicians, we are accustomed to hearing from our patients about their discoveries online about their health-related questions. It can be an ongoing battle with patients for them to listen to our words rather than those on the internet.
ChatGPT is a free online platform using artificial intelligence (AI) to respond to user questions. The potential uses for ChatGPT and other forms of AI have been documented by many over the last several months. Patients can easily insert their symptoms into ChatGPT… and wahlau, they will be provided with a differential diagnosis. ChatGPT will challenge the need for other platforms like WebMD that do not allow patients to interact with it. Thus, ChatGPT will creep on archaic, static platforms like WebMD until they are eventually all replaced by AI.
Physicians, rightfully so, are always concerned about those within other specialties and non-physicians creepin’ on their territory. Of course, they should be, as it can significantly affect their livelihood. Here are some examples of creep in medicine:
1) chiropractors have creeped on occupational medicine and pain management physicians
2) podiatrists have creeped on orthopaedic surgeons by doing surgery further up the leg
3) nurse practitioners have creeped on psychiatrists to evaluate and treat psychiatric patients.
Creep in medicine will continue flourishing as state legislators allow for role expansion from non-physicians.
The implications of AI creeping on physicians are both exciting and concerning. On the one hand, AI can help to streamline processes and increase accuracy in diagnosis and treatment. It can also provide valuable insights into patient health trends that may otherwise go unnoticed. However, using AI may allow healthcare systems to do away with physicians’ input on treating patients. Patients and administrators will ask physicians to compete with the diagnostic capabilities of AI. More so, physicians will compete with AI for the attention of patients. Will patients listen to AI or their physician?
AI-driven algorithms can only provide recommendations and should not replace the judgment of human physicians. Medical decisions should still ultimately be made by a trained medical professional. It is essential to ensure that AI-driven systems have proper safeguards to protect against biases, errors, and patient harm.
AI and ChatGPT will be valuable tools for physicians in the future, but it is essential to recognize that it is still a tool rather than a replacement for human expertise and judgment. AI can help physicians analyze large amounts of data and identify patterns that might not be immediately apparent to a human. Still, it should not be relied upon exclusively to make medical decisions. As ChatGPT creeps on those in the medical professions, physicians must develop ways to collaborate with ChatGPT and other AI platforms to improve healthcare. Rather than taking a stance against another non-physician creepin’ on our territory, we must accept and learn to incorporate this new technology into our profession.
***Liudmila Schafer is a practicing hem-oncologist and nationally-recognized speaker. She is CEO of DoctorConnect where she helps other physicians work with media outlets.