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Artificial Intelligence in Health Care: Implications for Patient and Workforce Safety

This IHI Innovation Report presents a detailed review of three primary applications of generative artificial intelligence (genAI) in health care, including benefits and potential patient safety risks and unintended consequences resulting from genAI tools.

Highlights

  • A detailed review of three primary applications of genAI in health care: documentation support, clinical decision support, and chatbots that provide patient support
  • Analysis and review of the three genAI applications, including benefits and potential patient safety risks and unintended consequences resulting from genAI tools
  • Considerations and recommendations for ongoing work to finetune AI tools and mitigate potential risks

The excitement surrounding use of artificial intelligence (AI) in health care is palpable, especially for generative AI (genAI) tools such as ChatGPT. Yet, the specific potential benefits of such tools in health care, as well as the risks and unintended challenges potentially associated with their implementation, are not well understood.

To better understand the current landscape, IHI conducted a 90-day innovation project, commissioned by the IHI Lucian Leape Institute, to identify high-level applications of genAI along with their advantages and disadvantages, including unexpected consequences or new safety hazards for patients and the health care workforce. The innovation project reviewed three primary types of clinical applications in health care: documentation support, clinical decision support, and chatbots that provide patient support.

While genAI applications in health care hold much promise, they also present serious potential risks that must be considered and addressed prior to more widespread implementation.

This report describes:

  • A detailed review of three primary applications of genAI in health care: documentation support, clinical decision support, and chatbots that provide patient support;
  • Analysis and review of the three genAI applications — including functions, benefits, risks, and examples — relevant to inpatient, primary care, and ambulatory care settings;
  • Potential patient safety risks and unintended consequences resulting from genAI tools; and
  • Considerations and recommendations for ongoing work to finetune AI tools and mitigate potential risks. 

How to Cite This Document: 
Feske-Kirby K, Shojania K, McGaffigan P. Artificial Intelligence in Health Care: Implications for Patient and Workforce Safety. Boston: Institute for Healthcare Improvement; 2024. (Available at ihi.org)

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