How AI could help triage emergency department care


Using GPT-4, a large language model created by OpenAI, holds potential for helping emergency department personnel determine which patients need the most urgent treatment and which patients ultimately will require admission to the hospital. 

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, input 10,000 pairs of patient information data from recent emergency department visits into GPT-4 to see if the AI tool could identify which patient had the more severe condition. GPT-4 was accurate 88% of the time, a slight edge over the physicians at 86%. Having AI assist in the triage process could help physicians allocate their time efficiently and serve as a backup for decision-making.

Doctors and hospital staff theoretically could use the technology to shorten patient wait time and more quickly determine how many beds are needed in a hospital, which emergency department patients should be transferred to inpatient floors and which should be discharged. 

Still, researchers concluded that while the technology holds promise, it requires enhancements. Even if such technology is implemented in emergency rooms, doctors will always need to perform their own independent evaluation to determine a patient’s treatment.