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Living Well

Fridays (with Benefits) - Are we really ready for a digital health care system?

Not a week goes by where we don't hear about another digital, robotic, AI-enhanced development in health care. Whether it's telehealth chats with a doctor, or new ways to analyze test results, we're all well-aware of the changes happening in our medical routines.

But being aware of the changes doesn't necessarily mean we're happy about them. As we learn in this week's headline, while advancements like telehealth may be inevitable, there are some things that take a little longer to accept… especially when it comes to our health.

Survey: Only 20% of Consumers Would Trust AI-Generated Advice for Healthcare - Fred Pennic, HIT Consultant

As a journalism school survivor, I've come to appreciate honesty in writing. So when a piece opens with a definitive statement like, "Artificial intelligence (AI) has no role in consumer healthcare…" well, we take notice.

Of course, that wasn't just blurted onto the page without context -- according to a recent survey of 2,000 adults, conducted by Invoca and The Harris Poll among over 2,000 U.S. adults, just 20% would trust AI-generated advice for health care information.

That's right, a society that trusts smartphones to pay bills, manage investments and provide accurate heart rate information can't quite come to grips with artificial intelligence handling basic medical analysis. In fact, the same people who usually text their friends rather than call them still want medical information delivered via phone conversations.

Unsurprisingly, younger survey participants were more likely to trust AI-generated information, with 80% responding positively. However, when it came to receiving medical advice, only 22% of the same age group felt comfortable using this technology.

Despite some of the snarky things we wrote earlier, it makes perfect sense that people want to have a human connection when it comes to medical updates. Even if the recommended treatment or diagnosis is minor, these are still decisions that could alter a big part of someone's life, and there needs to be a deeper level of understanding and compassion -- a level that AI isn't quite at just yet.

But one thing is for certain, this change is happening, and health care providers need to act upon surveys like this one to ensure that AI-driven patient interaction is capable of giving clear, concise, but caring information.

While robots may never have human levels of compassion, it's clear we'll need them to be -- or at least capable of sensing when a live person should take over the conversation.

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Fridays (with Benefits) is a weekly roundup of the latest headlines about employee benefits -- from FSAs to fitness programs and everything workplace wellness. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.