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    In this episode of the MGMA Insights podcast, we have the privilege of speaking with Dr. Robert Pearl, a renowned healthcare leader and the author of the groundbreaking book ChatGPT, MD: How AI-Empowered Patients & Doctors Can Take Back Control of American Medicine. Dr. Pearl shares his unique journey in healthcare leadership and his vision for how AI can transform and improve healthcare outcomes, a perspective that is sure to captivate our audience. He also discusses his collaboration with ChatGPT in writing his book, providing valuable insights into the future of healthcare.

    Editor’s note: The following Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

    Q: Dr. Pearl, we had you on the show in April 2020 – you were a keynote speaker at an MGMA event then. What's been going on in the last four years of your life?

    Pearl: The last four years have been very exciting. Obviously, there was the COVID pandemic, which was tragic during the transition. But since then, the world has reopened. I also have a new book called ChatGPT, MD: How AI-Empowered Patients & Doctors Can Take Back Control of American Medicine. All profits go to Doctors Without Borders. And it's very exciting to me, this generative AI era of medicine and how it can help patients and improve the doctor-patient relationship.

    Q: What motivated you to write a book about generative AI technology—with the assistance of AI?

    Pearl: After having written two previous books, I wasn't yet ready to write another book. In particular, I worried when it came to writing something about generative AI technology that if I followed the typical process of an author and a publisher, it would take two years. That's the usual timeframe between the writing of the book, and all the other processing, printing and distribution that had to sit in place. And I said to myself, at the rate that this technology is advancing, what would happen over the course of those two years? And for listeners and viewers, we're talking about exponential growth. This is a technology that's doubling in power and doubling in capability every 12 months. And that means that in five years, it’ll be 30 times more powerful than today. It's like a car that will be able to go faster than an airplane five years from now. It sounds impossible, and yet that's the trajectory not only that we have been on, but it is projected to go ahead and continue into the future."

    Q: When did this fascination with the intersection of technology and healthcare come about?

    Pearl: My background in technology goes back to high school, where I learned at the time to program computers and had summer jobs working in various businesses, identifying tasks done manually and helping complete the tasks using technology… Going way back to the 13th century and the Gutenberg Printing Press, you can see how it would take something that would be done manually by one individual three years to complete. Then, all of a sudden, you could put up hundreds or thousands of copies of a book similar to what I'm doing right now in a matter of hours or days. And generative AI, called ChatGPT in the book, I believe can allow for better health and better outcomes while decreasing the demands on the clinicians providing the care.

    Q: You share several interesting anecdotes and stories from the medical field in this book. What's your favorite one that really touches on unlocking data? How can generative AI unlock data, and why is that so important in healthcare right now?

    Pearl: I think the favorite I’ve run across recently is not in the book. I was recently on another podcast and the host told me a story about her husband. She said her husband had a skiing accident. He slipped, his arm was over his head, and his shoulder was still not right. Based on what she’d told me, she asked, "What do you think?" And I said, "I'll tell you what. I think I know what's wrong, but I won't tell you. I want you to put all the information into ChatGPT and I want you to tell me about the diagnosis and the treatment recommendations." She put all the information in, and then she sent me an email and said, "I can't believe it; it made the right diagnosis; it told me the specific diagnostic tests he needed. It told me that he probably needed surgery. If it had not been for this information, it might have been too late for him to get the needed repair. He then saw an orthopedic surgeon who confirmed exactly what ChatGPT had said, and surgery is now scheduled." That, to me, is the story of the future of what can happen when clinicians are dedicated and patients who are empowered work together with technology as one.


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