The Health Record – Health Law Insights, Issue 2, June 2024 | Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC

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“Furthermore, patients have shown diverse preferences across all aspects of care in relation to a desire for transparency around the use of AI tools in their care.”

Why this is important: Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around since the 1950’s. The original theory can be associated with Alan Turing; he reasoned that the same process of storing information and accessing it to solve problems, at that time unique to humans, could be replicated in machines. One of the first AI programs was created by Herbert Simon and Allen Newell, by the name of Logic Theorist, used to perform automated reasoning. Nevertheless, the technology that we encounter today is far different. Similarly, the practice of modern medicine has been around for quite some time, yet the methods used by pharmacists today are far different from that which was used in its infant stages.

The significance? Some processes naturally develop as more information and technology become available. It just happens that we have a unique case where medicine and AI intersect on an important issue, pharmacy. Are we ready to trust AI in our interactions with our pharmacist? Studies, observed by Casey Olsen, PharmD, show that when a patient’s visit with a medical professional is combined with a computer in the room, the perception from the patient is that the medical expert is not compassionate toward them, nor are they professional. An issue that medical professionals find with the implementation of AI is the risk of patients no longer feeling as if they can be honest with their healthcare specialist. The study quotes an individual by the name of Nelson who states, “There are people that bring up concerns that they don’t want to [mention] because they’re being recorded.” Many others feel similar.

However, results from a survey asking citizens how they feel about AI’s implementation in pharmacy, yielded surprising results. In the study, 50 percent of the people who participated preferred AI-Guided Care, whereas, the other 50 percent preferred Human-Guided Care. Results like these are one of the major catalysts for AI’s intersection with the medical practice, specifically pharmacy. This is likely because of a younger population, who are more familiar with and trusting of technological advances.

In sum, knowledge in pharmacy and AI is constantly developing. With this comes a better understanding of what processes work best. AI seems to be the future of many different professions, and pharmacy is not the exception. Though many are weary of what AI-Guided Care might mean for the future, it is worthwhile to consider how many technological advances have occurred in pharmacy. In doing so, one may realize that the pharmacy of their day, was the pharmacy of the future. AI may not be ready to be the sole foundation for which pharmaceutical practitioners rely, but it can definitely be of assistance, as it has in many other professional fields. — Elijah J. Stephens

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