ChatGPT Quickly Makes Patient Handouts Readable

A free online AI tool helps practices lower the reading level of patient handouts without sacrificing clarity or quality

What’s the Claim?

Countless studies have found that online and printed patient education materials we use are at a reading level that is too difficult for our patients. A new paper found that a free artificial intelligence (AI) dialogue platform (ChatGPT) was able to improve the reading accessibility of orthopaedic surgery online patient education materials. ChatGPT successfully reduced the reading-grade level from a high-school level (or higher) to a middle-school level (or lower). The study’s authors found the AI-converted materials still provided a sufficient level of nuance for patient education, and no factual errors or inaccuracies were identified. The authors found it was easy to convert these materials and it took only a few seconds per piece.

How’s It Stack Up?

We haven’t seen anything else like this in orthopaedic surgery. Although the experiment was conducted using online reading materials about spine surgery and lower extremity arthroplasty, there’s little reason to believe the approach wouldn’t work equally well for any area of orthopaedic surgery. It’s not clear this will work for conversion of these patient education materials to languages other than English, as this was not studied (nor has it been studied by anyone else yet that we have seen).

What’s Our Take?

With all the fretting about the harms ChatGPT and other AI platforms may unleash when they run amok — as they inevitably will — we’re delighted to share something orthopaedic practices can do with these tools today to increase their efficiency and help surgeons to take better care of patients. For those reasons, we wanted to disseminate these findings to CORRelations members just as soon as they came out. Although the authors found no errors or inaccuracies, it’s likely that as this approach is scaled up for the purpose of converting large numbers of materials (such as a practice’s entire library of patient education articles), there will be some mistakes. We know that ChatGPT is far from infallible, and it will need to be updated periodically, so practices that wish to adopt this approach should make sure that an orthopaedic surgeon reviews the AI-converted texts to ensure that they are error-free and sensible. Still, we’ve all known for a long time now that the materials we use are too difficult for many (if not most) of our patients, but there hasn’t been a convenient, practical, and economical approach to solving that problem. Now there is. What a win.


Kirchner GJ, Kim RY, Weddle JB, Bible JB. Can Artificial Intelligence Improve the Readability of Patient Education Materials. Clin Orthop Relat Res. Published online April 28, 2023. DOI: 10.1097/CORR.0000000000002668.

Further Commentary

Bernstein J. CORR Insights®: Can Artificial Intelligence Improve the Readability of Patient Education Materials? Clin Orthop Relat Res. Published online May 16, 2023. DOI: 10.1097/CORR.0000000000002702.