WebMD to ChatGPT: The new era of digital diagnosis

UK consumer perceptions of AI in healthcare

43% of UK adults believe they understand their health better than their doctor

This report provides an in-depth analysis of 1,000 British adults' views on the integration of technology and AI in healthcare, as explored in the UK-focused report, "WebMD to ChatGPT: The New Era of Digital Diagnosis." A significant portion, 73%, of UK adults owns smart devices, and more than half of these individuals use these devices for health tracking. This highlights a strong engagement with digital health tools. However, there's a notable hesitancy in adopting digital coaching and workout apps, with only 21% of smart device owners using them.

The influence of technology on health behaviors is acknowledged by 44% of those who track their health, yet there is a marked concern for data security. Only 28% of respondents express confidence in AI or technology companies to protect their health information. This reflects a cautious stance towards digital health data sharing.

In the realm of digital diagnosis, while a majority have searched for health symptoms online, a mere 5% have consulted large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT for medical advice. Of these, more than half received a diagnosis, and two-thirds verified it with a doctor. The report also indicates a reserved acceptance of AI in health-related tasks. Only a minority trusts AI for scheduling doctor appointments or managing health records, and a significant 65% would not trust AI for diagnosing medical conditions.

The response to telehealth is mixed. While 40% are comfortable sharing health information via telehealth, only about a quarter prefer it over traditional in-person visits. However, respondents have noted an increased awareness of their health due to technology, with heart rate and sleeping patterns being the most monitored aspects, suggesting a growing role for technology in personal health management.

When it comes to trusted sources for health advice, the majority of British adults rely on their personal doctor, followed by physician’s assistants or nurse practitioners. There's also a conservative approach to AI-based health apps, with only a quarter willing to use them.

As we approach 2024, 14% of Britons have set health or fitness-related resolutions, and over half of these individuals are likely to use AI to assist in maintaining these goals. Overall, the report uncovers a nuanced perspective on the role of technology in healthcare, balancing interest and engagement with a cautious approach, particularly regarding data security, trust in AI, and the role of digital diagnosis.

Hear what respondents have to say. 

Top 5 tasks people in the UK would trust with AI

  • Scheduling doctor appointments - 27%
  • Tracking health records - 23%
  • Coordinating with pharmacies - 22%
  • Creating or recommending a fitness or exercise plan - 22%
  • Diagnose them with medical conditions such as cold and flu (21%), COVID-19 (13%), and allergies (13%)

Infographic summary

WebMD to ChatGPT: The new era of digital diagnosis

Survey methodology

This random double-opt-in survey of 1,000 general population United Kingdom adults was commissioned by UserTesting between October 13 and October 17, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).