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Americans will use AI for heart health but still want advice from a doctor, Cleveland Clinic finds

Grace Brown, 14, adjusts her fitness tracker at the park where she does her jogging workouts for her "online PE" class, in Alexandria, Va., Friday, Nov. 1, 2019.
Jacquelyn Martin
The Associated Press
Cleveland Clinic's annual national survey about heart care found most Americans believe AI will improve heart care, but that doctors' opinions are more trusted.

A majority of Americans believe AI will improve heart care in the long run — but for now, there are trust issues, according to the Cleveland Clinic's annual national survey about cardiac care.

About eight in 10 Americans said they would consult a ChatBot for health advice but nine in 10 said they’d still get a doctor’s advice before acting on anything a computer or device tells them, the survey released Thursday found.

Dr. Tamanna Singh, co-director of Cleveland Clinic's Sports Cardiology Center, said the results show people are open to recommendations from AI, but that doesn’t mean technology replaces a doctor.

"There's still a lot of trust that's put into [people's] providers, even more so than some of this reliability on the accuracy of diagnoses just based upon something as simple as a chatbox," Singh said.

Dr. Samir Kapadia, chairperson of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, added that doctors are receiving an influx of inquiries on AI in health care. This year's survey was aimed at better understanding how patients feel about its use, Kapadia said.

“The increasing number of advancements in AI and in digital health has the potential to transform healthcare delivery, especially in cardiovascular care,” Kapadia said in a news release.

The survey also shed light on how many Americans use technology to monitor their health. Half of respondents said they use at least one type of technology to monitor their health. Daily step count is the most-tracked health metric, followed by heart rate and calorie burn. Nearly one-quarter of Americans said they use monitoring technology to find motivation or accountability for achieving their daily activity goals, according to the survey.

Singh said those findings give her reason for optimism.

“What truly excites me is the way that we could use a lot of this technology to motivate people to stay healthy," she said, "because if you're intentional about your movement and what you put into your body, you can reduce your cardiovascular risk by as much as 80%.”

Singh said she’s also seen a growing number of patients improve their sleep, by using sleep monitoring technology to make lifestyle changes.

Cleveland Clinic said in its State of the Clinic address in January that it would be increasing the use of AI across its operations. That includes direct patient care and helping doctors take notes.

Singh said Cleveland Clinic is also looking into how machine learning could predict how patients respond to certain treatments.

Taylor Wizner is a health reporter with Ideastream Public Media.
Justin Glanville is the deputy editor of engaged journalism at Ideastream Public Media.