Patients at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) in the Netherlands are now receiving responses to their written questions from an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, marking a

European first.

The AI application, integrated into patients' digital records, scans relevant information to generate a preliminary response, which is then reviewed by healthcare professionals before being sent. UMCG anticipates that this innovative system will significantly reduce the administrative workload for doctors, nurses, and healthcare providers. Despite the capabilities of AI, the hospital emphasizes the irreplaceable role of healthcare professionals.

With over 1,200 weekly questions submitted by patients, the new system aims to streamline administrative tasks, allowing more time for patient care. While the AI system in UMCG is not self-learning to ensure patient privacy, similar positive experiences in the US have encouraged the hospital's optimism about the technology's potential.

The chief medical information officer, Tom van der Laan, foresees AI playing an expanding role in healthcare, from generating patient-friendly surgery summaries to crafting discharge letters for family doctors. The successful trial at UMCG positions the system for potential implementation in other Dutch hospitals in the coming months. Photo by Wikimedia commons.