Why experts think AI will not replace doctors in mental health


Artificial intelligence is just as good as humans at identifying the language of a red flag in text messages from people with mental illness, recently study have found. But with many doctors Worry About replacing it with artificial intelligence, should they worry about these results?

Justin Tauscher, lead author of the above-mentioned medicine study at the University of Washington, said replacement wouldn’t be a problem. If anything, the AI ​​tools are there to support, not replace, doctors.

“The hope is that these tools and potential interventions that can be developed … will help give clinicians more insight into how they can best support their work,” Tauscher said in an interview. “So instead of replacing doctors or changing the way they work, it just adds to the work that can be done and adds to the tools someone provides them with.”

Another industry expert agreed with Tauscher’s comments. AI is simply a support tool for clinicians, said Robin Farman Varmaian, an entrepreneur who works with AI startups and author of How AI Can Democratize Healthcare.

“Artificial intelligence will never replace doctors,” she said in an interview. “Doctors using AI are going to replace doctors who don’t. AI is a tool… an app can do one thing very well. So in a study case, it can only detect those few things it was looking for, while That wizard looks at much more than that.”

The study, published in the Journal of Psychological Services, collected thousands of text messages from 39 patients in a randomized, controlled trial over a 12-week period. Doctors evaluated the texts for cognitive distortions, or thoughts that increase depression and anxiety. The researchers also used natural language processing in the study, which means they programmed computers to identify cognitive distortions. Specifically, clinicians and computers looked for five types of cognitive distortion in language: mental filtering, jumping to conclusions, dramatization, “should” statements, and overgeneralization.

Tauscher claimed that this is the first study to use natural language processing for text messages between patients with serious mental illnesses and doctors.

“This was the first attempt, at least as far as we know, to train a classifier to text back and forth between seriously mentally ill individuals and their doctors for cognitive distortions…just kind of knowing that we can take advantage of some techniques from natural language processing to get More insights into what’s going on between the patient and the clinicians and the therapeutic intervention is really exciting.”

Tauscher said texting has become a prevalent part of mental health treatment. He said use is starting in a more visible way, such as appointment reminders, medication reminders and support data. Ultimately, texting in mental health settings grew into actual therapeutic conversations between clinicians and patients, including informing people of mental health resources in the community or checking in with clients between sessions.

“We are learning a lot about how to use text messaging to deliver actual therapeutic interventions,” Tauscher said. “So challenging thoughts, relaxation, identifying cognitive distortions. Reciprocal texting and replying have been shown to be beneficial in this way, and some clients really enjoy this kind of methodology or that method because it is convenient. They don’t necessarily have to come into an office for this and there Something about the indirect, face-to-face nature which is beneficial for some clients.”

Now that the researchers have come up with these findings, they want to expand their work. In the future, Tauscher said, they want to test their model on a different group of clinicians and patients, as well as look for other examples of cognitive distortion.

But more importantly, Tocher wants to show doctors how technology can support and improve their work, not replace them.

“In the field of mental health, language is one of the most important ways in which we deliver care and it holds a lot of information that can be used to inform how we deliver our services… We can take advantage of advances from technology and from natural language processing and artificial intelligence, to capture the information that is being conveyed. in our language to improve the way mental health care is delivered to people over time.”

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