AI doesn’t have to replace humans to accelerate medicine

When patients are dealing with a sexually transmitted infection, they don’t always get advice on whether they should come into the clinic in a timely fashion. So patient interface company Healthvana created a conversational AI chatbot to quickly answer some of their questions. It had two options: standard AI persona or a drag queen.

As it turned out, the rainbow-colored drag queen helped engage more patients. “Eighty percent of people are choosing the drag queen persona, and they love the comments that are coming back,” said Healthvana CEO Ramin Bastani.

At a panel at the Milken Institute 2024 Global Conference Monday, Bastani and other health care leaders addressed the rapidly growing applications of AI in science and health care. Collectively, they acknowledged that developers and health systems have to think critically about AI’s limits to avoid harm to patients. But at the same time, they emphasized that people have to shift their mindset from asking, “How is AI going to replace me?” to “What can I do with AI?” said MD Anderson Cancer Center Chief Data Officer Caroline Chung.

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