Can Voice AI Reduce Malpractice Risks?

Applying AI into practice:

Can Voice AI Reduce Malpractice Risks?

"Don't take that tone with me!"

Dangerous words to hear at home and as a public speaker.  But tone of voice in the exam room can correlate to malpractice risk.  I fear that many of us experience "being hung be the tongue." So we should ask the question: Can voice AI reduce malpractice risks?

Warnings from a physician-attorney

It's been a decade since John Shufeldt, MD, JD, MBA, FACEP wrote a commentary [LINK] based on a study published back in 2002, Surgeons' tone of voice: a clue to malpractice history [Ambady et al. Surgery 2002 Jul;132(1):5-9.].  Mr. Shufeldt commented, "Medical malpractice history is not only associated with medical negligence but is also associated with a provider's interpersonal skills — the nature and quality of communication with a patient. The quality of the care is not the only reason patients initiate a law suit. Rather, the decision to sue is based upon a number of factors, including the relationship the patient has with their provider."  So the study on surgeons' tone of voice is important to understand.

Two ten-second voice samples predicted malpractice claims

The 2002 study (Ambady et al.) audiotaped surgeons during patient visits and then human coders extracted two 10-second clips from the first and last minute of only two patients for each surgeon.  They assessed/rated several variables: warmth, hostility, dominance and anxiety from each 10-second voice clip individually for content and voice tone. Controlling for content, ratings of higher dominance and lower concern/anxiety in the surgeons' voice tones significantly identified the ones with previous claims compared with those who had no claims.  (odds ratio 2.74, 95% confidence interval). The researchers concluded that this method might be useful in training surgeons.  I could not find any follow up studies on PubMed. This was obviously a time and labor intensive study.

Seems like artificial intelligence (AI) could help

In May 2017, I wrote, "Can AI Really Help Your Be a Better Public Speaker?" to share my own experiences in using the product VoiceVibes.  I spoke with the founder recently, who would love to get similar voice files from someone interested in this topic. It would be great if we had a practical AI tool to improve the patient-physician encounter.  I had written a review at that time also wondering if voice quality has an impact on patient education at the time of hospital discharge.

Can voice AI reduce malpractice risks?

I have been personally impressed with the feedback I got when I personally bought a subscription to VoiceVibes.  If you are interesting in improving your public speaking, they  now offer a $30 discount on orders from our site.

It would be great if we could leverage AI in this way to improve physician-patient communication in all fields of care. So, can voice AI reduce malpractice risks? It seems likely.  I think it also represents a great application of AI in healthcare.


Ambady N, Laplante D, Nguyen T, Rosenthal R, Chaumeton N, Levinson W.  Surgeons' tone of voice: a clue to malpractice history. Surgery, 2002, Jul;132(1):5-9 [Abstract on PubMed]

Shufeldt J. The Tonal Qualities of Providers' Voice Predictive of History. Written for AHC Media (now Relias).


Read my VoiceVibes review HERE

Read Can AI Improve Public Speaking? HERE

Dashboard of the VoiceVibes Analysis, an AI Speech Coach

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