We don't listen to our doctors

by Vivian Diep in July 22nd, 2022

Is AI-generated advice too artificial?

Tue Jul 5

Algorithms shuffle through music and recommend memes for us, but are we ready for them to give us health advice? Some insurers have started using artificial intelligence (AI) to scan patient medical records to efficiently detect ways to improve their help. So far, the AI can help identify the risks for a potential or worsening condition including obesity, depression, heart disease, and more. It then contacts the patient through phone call, email, or text to enroll them in a treatment or prevention program.

Problem is, hardly anyone responds. While medical professionals recognize that patients have no obligation to enroll, they fear the AI-based approach isn’t personalized enough to capture patient attention. One company began training nurses to contact patients directly with sensitivity and respect to their condition. This additional work resulted in a 10% increase in enrollments to the clinical programs.

That said, it might not be the AI’s fault entirely. A number of prior studies have shown that patients often ignore medical advice altogether. One decade-old study showed that failure to follow doctor advice leads to 10% of annual hospitalizations and over 125,000 deaths each year. And research is continuing to show how it’s not enough to simply hear about health risks and proper care. Humans need to internalize the information and understand it to be motivated enough to follow it. So while AI may make it easier to match patients to treatment plans, communication is still a strictly people business.


The Whiskey Business of Drinking

We’ve all heard about the health benefits associated with a glass of wine — turns out, that may not be true. A new global study finds that for anyone under 40, there are no benefits associated with drinking any amount at all. Instead, the global data found any level of alcohol consumption increases the risk of death. For those over 40, benefits include reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes.

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A Mice Update on Solving Pain

Research as early as 1960 has shown how music can alleviate chronic pain. Scientists put it to the test by playing three different sounds (classical music, an unpleasant rearrangement of the same piece, and white noise) for mice suffering from inflamed paws. The type of sound made no impact — at least on mice. Any sound at low intensity reduced pain sentiment, exposing a pain pathway in the brain that might be effectively “blocked.”

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🎬 Action of the Week

Why do we ignore our doctor’s advice? And how can we work on becoming better patients? Get to know why we might ignore doctor's orders and the high cost of doing so.


  • Wall Street Journal: Patient hesitancy to AI 17 days old | 7 minutes long
  • AAMC: Why patients ignore doctors 5 years old | 13 minutes long
  • BBC: Going against doctor’s orders 7 years old | 3 minutes long


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That sound is so soothing, every little squeak of it.

Art Credit: Joan G. Stark

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