Considerations for Using ChatGPT and AI in Your Weight Loss Practice
— By Karol Clark, MSN, RN
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing many industries and weight loss is no exception. What does this mean for you and your weight loss practice?
It can definitely be difficult keeping up with all of the latest trends in the weight loss industry — let alone determine which trends you should embrace and which are a passing fancy that won’t serve you, your practice, or your patients now or long-term.
Currently we are experiencing an Artificial Intelligence surge that is not expected to go away.1 This disruptive technology is here to stay and businesses need to be able to adapt. In fact, nowadays, it seems as if it is no longer “survival of the fittest.” Rather, it is “survival of the most adaptable.” Yet, we are not just talking about survival. The goal is to thrive and ethically utilize these ever-evolving tools to improve efficiencies in your practice, augment team effectiveness, and improve patient outcomes as well as their overall experience.
Let’s explore what AI and ChatGPT are, as well as how this technology is currently being used in the weight loss industry. Of additional importance are the potential benefits as well as considerations weight loss practitioners should keep in mind when utilizing such technologies.
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a term coined by John McCarthy in 1955. He defined it as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines.”2 It essentially refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. These tasks can include things like learning from experience, understanding natural language, recognizing patterns, solving problems, and even making decisions. AI systems process information and respond in ways that appear intelligent.
The main purpose is to put information, based upon available data that you want and need at your fingertips, so you can make informed decisions. This can allow you to scale your personal and business capabilities by letting technology do some of the time-consuming work.
AI can be categorized into three types based upon its capabilities. These categories are Narrow AI, General AI, and Super AI.3 Narrow (or Weak) AI is focused on one task and cannot perform beyond its limitations — essentially the kinds of AI you experience every day. Examples include Apple Siri, IBM Watson, Google translate, spam filtering, image recognition software, and Google’s page-ranking algorithm. General (or Strong) AI is still considered theoretical. It is AI that can learn new tasks to solve new problems by teaching itself new strategies (like the human mind). Finally, Super (or Conscious) AI is AI with human-level consciousness, awareness, reasoning, and self-correction. This level would be hard to attain, doesn’t exist yet, and is also considered theoretical.4
ChatGPT stands for Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer and is a large language model-based chatbot developed by OpenAI.5 This technology was launched for voluntary use at no cost to the user on November 30, 2022. This generative AI can generate new content rather than simply analyze data. It is essentially a computer program that can have a conversation with people and provide a virtual writing assistant or smart chat bot that can answer questions with its own replies. The output tends to be as effective as the specific questions you ask. Providing context and details regarding your inquiry will help to generate a highly relevant and more accurate response.
AI and ChatGPT Application in the Weight Loss Industry
The use of Artificial Intelligence Chatbots for weight loss is more common than many may think. AI-driven practices and commercial weight loss businesses utilize such tools to provide personalized guidance, data analysis, and behavioral insights to clients on their weight loss journey. Some practical applications include using AI Chatbots for the following activities:
- Demographic and lifestyle data collection
- Obesity risk assessment
- Diet, exercise and stress management recommendations based upon the clients personal and wearable device input
- Motivational messages and support
- Metric tracking
- Gamification for added engagement
- Combination of text, speech/audio and video interactions that are even language specific
- … and more
In addition, according to the American College of Surgeons, AI is on the verge of revolutionizing surgical care.6 This is because of the ability of AI to review large amounts of data from patient records, diagnostic testing/imaging results and surgical videos — then use this information to detect, classify and predict patient care and outcomes.
Finally, AI and ChatGPT are being used in many aspects of weight loss practice operations, management, weight loss clinic lead generation, and product marketing. A few specific examples include hiring, onboarding, training, development of standard operating procedures, creating marketing ideas for nutritional supplements, patient education, content creation, and even taking meeting minutes.
Potential Benefits of Incorporating AI and ChatGPT into your Weight Loss Practice
Incorporating AI and ChatGPT into your weight loss practice has a number of potential benefits such as:
Automated Progress Tracking: AI can assist in tracking patient progress by recording milestones, evaluating changes, and providing real-time feedback. It can also deliver motivating statements and gamification rewards based upon such feedback that tends to empower patients to stay engaged and motivated.
Automated Education & Support: Instead of having limited business hours, AI and Chatbots don’t operate on a set schedule. Such tools are available around the clock. This constant accessibility allows clients to seek guidance and support when they need it, which can promote a better sense of continuity and satisfaction throughout their weight loss journey. AI tools can also help you create and automate patient education programs as well as enhance ongoing support.
Behavioral Insights: As you know, understanding and modifying patient behavior/habits is critical for weight loss success. AI can help identify patterns in a client’s choices and actions; this can enable you to offer strategies that align with their behavioral tendencies.
Added Efficiency & Lower Costs: AI can automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks that may keep you or your team from accomplishing your bigger — more important — goals. You can use AI and ChatGPT to write policies, create marketing messages and content, draft engaging patient e-mails, design private label weight loss products, and create patient education materials to name a few. Improving workflows and increasing team productivity in such ways can help reduce labor costs while improving overall sales and marketing efforts.
While there are many benefits, there are also considerations for you to weigh in order to determine what AI tools will be most beneficial for your weight loss practice.
Important Considerations for Integrating AI and ChatGPT into your Weight Loss Practice
While Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT can make your life easier in many ways, it is obviously not a replacement for human interaction — especially when it comes to patient care and effective long-term weight loss.
Below are some important considerations for you as you determine which features you may choose to integrate into your practice, services and programs.
Ethics & Privacy: While AI brings numerous benefits, ethical considerations must guide selected use and implementation. Privacy concerns surrounding client data security must be addressed in order to ensure HIPAA compliance and protection of sensitive patient information. Additionally, balancing AI recommendations with your protocols and patient goals must be taken into consideration and acted upon to avoid potential conflicts.
Algorithmic Biases: Human programmers and availability of massive amounts of data can unintentionally introduce biases into AI’s algorithms. Recommended patient care algorithms should be leveraged against best practices and tested for accuracy. Consistent feedback that the AI applications can learn and integrate can help with accuracy.
Supervision: As with any form of automation, human oversight and involvement must occur. Such applications are not able to factor in human emotion and specific patient responses. Such technology also cannot effectively provide your personal interactive touch and personality — what likely drew your patient to choose you and your weight loss clinic in the first place. Thus, human oversight is imperative. AI generated recommendations should be reviewed by practitioners to ensure they align with the client’s individual circumstances and your expert recommendations.
Learning Curve: Integrating AI into your practice requires an investment of time and effort. Setting up AI systems, training your team to interpret AI-generated insights, and familiarizing clients with your systems are all essential for a more seamless experience. The learning curve doesn’t end there. AI technology is advancing rapidly requiring adaptation and change — something that can create a great deal of frustration.
Open Mind/Due Diligence & Team Involvement: Everyone has a different tolerance for technology and change. As AI and ChatGPT continue to evolve, it is important to have an open mind. Since it is new and ever-changing, it is also difficult at best to know what applications you should use and which should be avoided. This can be hard to navigate, yet it is important to do your due diligence as to how external AI companies collect and store data since protected health information is a target for cybercriminals.
The role of AI and ChatGPT in your weight loss practice is bound to evolve. As technology advances, AI’s potential impact will be vast. Predictive analytics, enhanced data processing, and even more personalized recommendations are among the possibilities that you should be prepared for. By embracing AI’s capabilities while addressing these considerations, maintaining your human connection, and fostering transparent communication, you can create synergy between technology and personalized care.