Journal of Medical Internet Research (Feb 2021)

Use and Control of Artificial Intelligence in Patients Across the Medical Workflow: Single-Center Questionnaire Study of Patient Perspectives

  • Lennartz, Simon,
  • Dratsch, Thomas,
  • Zopfs, David,
  • Persigehl, Thorsten,
  • Maintz, David,
  • Große Hokamp, Nils,
  • Pinto dos Santos, Daniel

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 23, no. 2
p. e24221


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BackgroundArtificial intelligence (AI) is gaining increasing importance in many medical specialties, yet data on patients’ opinions on the use of AI in medicine are scarce. ObjectiveThis study aimed to investigate patients’ opinions on the use of AI in different aspects of the medical workflow and the level of control and supervision under which they would deem the application of AI in medicine acceptable. MethodsPatients scheduled for computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging voluntarily participated in an anonymized questionnaire between February 10, 2020, and May 24, 2020. Patient information, confidence in physicians vs AI in different clinical tasks, opinions on the control of AI, preference in cases of disagreement between AI and physicians, and acceptance of the use of AI for diagnosing and treating diseases of different severity were recorded. ResultsIn total, 229 patients participated. Patients favored physicians over AI for all clinical tasks except for treatment planning based on current scientific evidence. In case of disagreement between physicians and AI regarding diagnosis and treatment planning, most patients preferred the physician’s opinion to AI (96.2% [153/159] vs 3.8% [6/159] and 94.8% [146/154] vs 5.2% [8/154], respectively; P=.001). AI supervised by a physician was considered more acceptable than AI without physician supervision at diagnosis (confidence rating 3.90 [SD 1.20] vs 1.64 [SD 1.03], respectively; P=.001) and therapy (3.77 [SD 1.18] vs 1.57 [SD 0.96], respectively; P=.001). ConclusionsPatients favored physicians over AI in most clinical tasks and strongly preferred an application of AI with physician supervision. However, patients acknowledged that AI could help physicians integrate the most recent scientific evidence into medical care. Application of AI in medicine should be disclosed and controlled to protect patient interests and meet ethical standards.