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Patients Are Resistant to Medical AI and Prefer Human Medical Providers, New Study Finds

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NYU Stern and Boston University research team shows that personalization of care and physician oversight are key to patient acceptance

Enhancing the perceived personalization of care delivered by medical AI, and enlisting physicians to verify and endorse the recommendations of AI providers will be key to building trust and receptivity among consumers.

NYU Stern and Boston University research team shows that personalization of care and physician oversight are key to patient acceptance

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize healthcare by outperforming physicians in some cases and delivering cost-effective care at scale. The adoption and future fate of medical AI, however, will ultimately rest in the hands of patients. New research from the NYU Stern School of Business and Boston University Questrom School of Business finds that patients are less receptive and less likely to trust AI over human healthcare providers.

The study’s authors, NYU Stern Professor Andrea Bonezzi and Boston University Questrom Professors Chiara Longoni and Carey K. Morewedge, explored consumers’ receptivity to “medical AI,” defined as any machine that uses an algorithm or statistical model to perform perceptual, cognitive and/or conversational functions in patient care. Key to their analysis was the concept of “uniqueness neglect,” or patient concerns that their uniqueness is important when making healthcare decisions and not sufficiently factored into automated judgements. 

Across nine experiments, the authors examined consumer preferences in connection to medical AI and concluded that:
  • Consumers are less willing to receive healthcare by AI providers than human providers
  • Consumers perceive medical care delivered by AI providers as standardized and therefore neglecting their unique, individual needs
  • Patients’ willingness to pay is less for healthcare delivered by AI than by humans
  • Resistance to medical AI was eliminated when the automated provider offered additional input from a physician 
  • Framing care as personalized and customizable, based on the patient’s unique attributes, appears to curb resistance to medical AI
“Overcoming the challenge of ‘uniqueness neglect’ is a critical barrier to the adoption of consumer-facing medical AI,” explains Professor Bonezzi. “Enhancing the perceived personalization of care delivered by medical AI, and enlisting physicians to verify and endorse the recommendations of AI providers will be key to building trust and receptivity among consumers.” 

The paper, “Resistance to Medical Artificial Intelligence,” is forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research

To speak with Prof. Bonezzi, please contact Kimberly Couzens at 212-998-0923 or kcouzens@stern.nyu.edu or Carolyn Ritter at 212-998-0624 or critter@stern.nyu.edu in NYU Stern’s Office of Public Affairs.