Does ChatGPT have a future in spine? 3 surgeons weigh in


ChatGPT has already been used by some health systems to ease clinical burdens. However, not all spine surgeons are keen to utilize the artificial intelligence software in their own practice. 

Ask Spine Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting spine care. Becker's invites all spine surgeon and specialist responses.

Next week's question: If you weren’t a spine surgeon, what would your job be?

Please send responses to Carly Behm at by 5 p.m. CDT Wednesday, April 5.

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: To what extent do you see AI tools like ChatGPT being used at your practice for documentation or billing?

Harel Deutsch, MD. Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (Chicago): I've heard of doctors using ChatGPT to write appeal letters for medical procedure denials with literature references.

I've heard of other services that "listen" to visits and provide documentation of the medical visit.

Ultimately, I think ChatGPT artificial intelligence-type tools will be mostly used by insurance companies to evaluate billing and approve surgeries and procedures rather than using nurses or doctors to review cases.

Brian Fiani, DO. Mendelson Kornblum Orthopedic & Spine Specialists (Livonia, Mich.): ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence program that has the ability to identify, interpret and analyze patterns and trends in complex clinical data sets and can be used to predict patient outcomes. In regards to documentation and billing, the use of artificial intelligence should be cautioned. Artificial intelligence programs like ChatGPT mirror intuitive human conversation but cannot replace the duty and diligence delivered by a professional healthcare provider who is dedicated to their documentation and accurate billing. It is projected that the algorithms can help fill in gaps with patients to answer questions and translate medical discussion for better patient comprehension. I do foresee many repetitive medical tasks such as pre-authorizing insurance, follow-up on unpaid bills, and maintaining medical records will be supported by ChatGPT-type automated software systems.

Christian Zimmerman, MD. St. Alphonsus Medical Group and SAHS Neuroscience Institute (Boise, Idaho): For the most part, our billing and even coding steps entail time-tested templates and consistent repetition. Applying key words and formulating entire pathways are certainly present, relied upon and usable. Reinforced learning in spinal surgery is serviceable especially in a larger, enduring spinal practice. The many variables of complex spinal work make up the intuitive, artistic portion of this equation and require much more focus in surgery and description to arrive at acceptable outcomes. Thought conclusion through a repetition platform could also assist in the future. The expectant result of technology and its wanton dominance is again reason for pause.

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