How allergists can use artificial intelligence

| | June 26, 2023

How allergists can use artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere these days; you can’t go far without hearing about ChatGPT and Bard and how folks are using these tools creatively and to save time. We were curious: how can allergists use these tools right now, without spending time or money? And what AI tools are currently available?

To get answers, we reached out to Sakina Bajowala, MD, from the College’s Telehealth and Technology Task Force. Dr. Bajowala has been using ChatGPT since December 2022, and has recently started using the internet-enabled Bard. In the process, she has found multiple ways to incorporate these tools into her practice. “ChatGPT and Bard do a remarkably good job of saving time when you need to draft letters, educational summaries, consent forms and more. However, they come with a major caveat: you need to review the output carefully and do your due diligence to confirm accuracy,” says Dr. Bajowala. “For example, don’t trust literature references. You need to verify they are legitimate, as AI tools sometimes make them up.”

Here are some of the ways Dr. Bajowala has used AI tools in her practice:

  • To generate form letters for patients going off to college that explain why a student needs priority access to dining halls, a dormitory with A/C, or a HEPA filter. A sample prompt to ChatGPT for this letter might be:

    “Writing as the allergist, draft a letter to the university housing office, requesting permission for your patient with allergic rhinitis to get assigned to a dormitory with air conditioning.”

    Once you view the output, you can modify it as necessary, or provide feedback to ChatGPT and it will make the changes. Using focused parameters in the prompt will save you time and future iterations with ChatGPT. Once you have a satisfactory letter, you can add it to your EMR as a template, and you’ll have it available in the future.

  • To generate letters to support billing for certain codes. For example, colleagues are frequently asked by insurers to support billing for 95165. AI tools can draft letters to insurance companies justifying the codes, units billed, etc.
  • To generate patient education documents. (ex: Use an AI language generator such as ChatGPT or Bard to draft one-page tips on measures to reduce exposure to environmental allergens. Sample prompt: “Write a one-page patient education document explaining what measures can be taken to reduce exposure to environmental pollen and mold.”). It takes less than one second to generate a well-written document that can be added to your website, EMR, or printed materials. Bard offers the ability to export the information to Google Docs or your email with the click of a button.
  • To generate patient consent forms for specific procedures. (ex: oral food challenge, skin testing, immunotherapy, etc.).
  • To generate a document explaining how to interpret basic spirometry. Dr. Bajowala had a pre-med college student working at her practice who was interested in learning how to interpret PFTs. So, she asked ChatGPT to generate a document that could be read in 10 minutes, written at a college level, on how to interpret basic spirometry. She reviewed it, edited it as necessary, and printed it out as a reference for the spirometry room.

For all these tasks, Dr. Bajowala stresses, the AI output isn’t perfect. But it gets you started, and you can refine/tweak it as needed. “That way you can focus on things that require your degree, rather than spending time drafting letters,” she says. “And you can use your knowledge to review what these products provide and adjust as necessary.”

Keep in mind the College has approved, vetted patient education materials available free to College members in our Marketing and Patient Materials Toolkit and science-based, prior authorization appeal letters in our Prior Authorization Toolkit. We recommend utilizing these resources, when appropriate, before turning to ChatGPT and Bard for help.

Regarding paid AI products, Dr. Bajowala notes AI-enabled scribe services are an interesting option. Some allergists currently use in-person scribes, but they can be time consuming to train, costly and difficult to retain. Others use virtual scribes with some success. AI-enabled scribe services take these a step further by virtually removing the need for manual documentation, and letting you focus solely on your patient. But this use of AI raises other questions, such as the security of patients’ personal/sensitive health information, patients’ reactions to using an AI scribe, and the amount of trust to place in AI scribe to perform tasks.

AI is here whether we’re ready for it or not. Allergists don’t want to be left in the dust; our specialty needs to learn how to function in a society with AI and figure out how to harness it to our benefit. As the leader in practice management resources for allergy and immunology, the College will be here to support you as we all learn more about artificial intelligence and how it can benefit our specialty.