Why Implementing AI in Clinical Practice a Tough Call
By MedTech Outlook | Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Mentions of artificial intelligence (AI) have become ubiquitous in the healthcare landscape. From deep learning algorithms to natural language processing the applications for AI in healthcare seem endless. But AI also presents multiple concerns that must be addressed seriously like any technology at the peak of its hype. Despite AI's potential to unleash new insights and streamline the way providers and patients interact with healthcare data, it may bring considerable threats of privacy, ethical concerns, and medical errors.
One primary concern is that of informed consent. AI devices are complex, and the presentation of information can be complicated by patient or clinician fears, an excess trust in technology or confusion. Even well-trained caregivers may not have a complete understanding of the layers of complexity involved with these devices.
Clinician's ability to understand how the system arrives at a decision and how an error might occur can be hindered by the lack of transparency in an AI system. Sometimes competing views of an AI controlled future may color the patient's acceptance of AI medical devices.
Another critical issue is that of responsibility when a medical error occurs. The failure can be the problem of many hands including coders, designers, medical device companies, healthcare providers, hospitals and healthcare systems, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and medical schools. For the ethical use of AI system, each of these has important responsibilities to take steps to ensure safety.
Companies providing detailed information about AI systems to ensure both clinicians patients are well informed can outsmart these concerns. To improve the informed consent process clinicians should explain to the patients the specific roles of AI systems and the risks and the benefits they have. Also, the healthcare community needs to collectively meet these goals by encouraging open discussion of AI technologies and their integration into clinical practice.
The evolving maturity of artificial intelligence will only add to the mixed emotions in the healthcare community. There may not be robust solutions to these fundamental challenges at the moment, but healthcare practitioners still have the opportunity to shape the future of patient care avoiding failures.