Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) (© NicoElNino - stock.adobe.com)

NEW YORK — More Americans are trusting social media and health-related websites for medical advice over an actual healthcare professional, a new survey reveals. The poll of 2,000 adults finds many will turn to the web for “accurate” information regarding their health before asking their physician. In fact, significantly more people consult healthcare websites (53%) and social media (46%) than a real-life doctor (44%).

Nearly three-quarters (73%) believe they have a better understanding of their health than their own doctor does. 

Commissioned by UserTesting and conducted by OnePoll, the survey also found that the public’s trust of artificial intelligence (AI) differs around the world. The same survey polling 1,000 British adults and 1,000 Australian adults finds, comparatively, 44 percent of Brits and 27 percent of Australians wouldn’t trust AI to handle any health-related tasks. Meanwhile, only six percent of Americans shared the same anti-AI sentiments.

Further showcasing their point, two in three Americans say they’ve looked up their symptoms on an internet search engine like Google or a website like WebMD.

Infographic Survey shows people prefer AI and the internet over their doctor.
Over half of the respondents (52%) state they have given a list of their symptoms to a large language model (LLM) like ChatGPT, looking for a diagnosis. Of them, 81 percent received a diagnosis from the LLM, and when asked for the accuracy of their diagnosis after consulting a doctor, 84 percent say the diagnosis was accurate.

Respondents say they would rather consult the internet or ChatGPT instead of their doctor because they don’t understand their healthcare insurance or what it covers (57%), they’re embarrassed by what they’re experiencing (51%), or because they want a second opinion (45%). 

“The PX — or patient experience — is not just about the relationship between patients and providers,” says spokesperson Lija Hogan, principal of enterprise research strategy at UserTesting, in a statement. “Healthcare journeys include digital touchpoints that extend beyond scheduling appointments or remote visitsAmericans are using AI as a means to help them navigate a complex experience with more information that is understandable and relevant to them – and that they feel is trustworthy.”

The survey also finds people would trust AI to recommend treatment plans to them (53%), schedule doctors’ appointments (52%), and coordinate with pharmacies to fill prescriptions (47%). Respondents would also trust AI with their sleeping patterns (53%), heart rate information (51%), blood pressure (42%), and fertility information (40%).

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(Photo by Alexander Sinn on Unsplash)

Nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) would trust AI to diagnose them with medical conditions such as certain chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes (48%), COVID-19 (42%), and colds and flus (40%).

Ninety-four percent of those polled own a personal smart device that can track health and 86 percent of them use smart devices to opt in for health tracking. Six in 10 (62%) say health tracking has influenced their behaviors.

Of course, much of the trust people have for technology doesn’t stop with AI. Many would also trust major tech companies with their personal health data, including Google (54%), Apple (47%), Fitbit (34%), Amazon (31%), and Meta (25%). 

Overall, 78 percent state they’re “confident” that AI and tech companies would protect their health information.

Doctors and patients need to figure out together how AI can play the best role in healthcare journey,” continues Hogan. “This means that we have to figure out the right guardrails to ensure people are getting high-quality advice in the right contexts and how to connect patients to providers. The growing prevalence of healthcare deserts or even just ordinary lack of access in America means that AI will be incorporated into the healthcare journey to provide care at the scale that we need as the country ages.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by UserTesting between October 13 and October 17, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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