Munjal Shah, founder of medical AI startup Hippocratic AI, aims to leverage the recent advances in large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT for healthcare applications. However, he wants to do so cautiously, focusing only on safe use cases that avoid high-risk medical decision-making. He aims to provide supplemental health services that reduce provider burnout without diagnosing patients or making treatment recommendations.

Hippocratic AI refers to the ancient physician’s oath to “first, not harm.” For Shah, AI in healthcare should assist human providers rather than replace them. Specifically, he believes LLMs can absorb the latest medical research and communicate it conversationally to patients in a compassionate bedside manner. With infinite time and patience, they may surpass overworked staff in empathetic listening and clearly explaining self-care instructions.

Recent research has found AI responses to patient questions scored higher in quality and empathy than physicians’ replies. While cautioning not to overstate this, Shah argues that AI’s emotional consistency could boost chronic care adherence when well-trained. The key to accuracy is evidence-based medical content, not the broader internet sources used to teach general chatbots.

What does safe healthcare AI look like under Munjal Shah’s approach? Hippocratic AI avoids high-stakes diagnoses or treatment plans. Instead, it focuses on inherently low-risk assistance like patient education, referral logistics, nutrition plans, and emotional support. This reduces demands on human clinicians without ever practicing medicine itself. Early testing shows it outperforms leading LLMs on medical exams and bedside manner benchmarks.

The staffing crisis in medicine only promises to worsen in the coming years. Munjal Shah believes AI, like Hippocratic, is crucial in increasing healthcare access if developed ethically. Far from replacing physicians, it extends its reach by offloading repetitive tasks and mindfully interacting with patients 24/7. This allows doctors and nurses to operate at the peak of their training while patients receive high-tech convenience and high-touch humanity in one package.

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