4 Problems With AI For Healthcare, And How To Deal With Them

Artificial intelligence for healthcare is expanding in many ways, but there are many potential problems with AI for healthcare to consider

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February 13, 2019
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Artificial intelligence is a hugely exciting field with near endless opportunities for growth and innovation. It has been utilized in industries as disparate as retail and agriculture. With a field that is as technologically focused and as innovative as AI, it is little question as to whether it will be brought into the healthcare field.

But, as such a unique industry, healthcare poses a fair few questions of AI that are not yet answered satisfactorily. There are a lot of doubts surrounding the marriage of the two fields, juxtapose with a relentless drive to improve and commercialize AI in a all technical industries. In theory AI makes total sense in healthcare, but, as we are about to see, there are some issues as well.

1. People Don’t Trust It

It’s one thing to have smart lighting in your house or an AI code deciding which deals best suit you on Amazon, but it’s a different thing entirely to have AI predicting which medical action is best for you to take or even where to make the incision for your operation. Error in online shopping algorithms is something which might draw a sigh or even a laugh but an error with healthcare can lead to disastrous ends, maybe even leading to a fatality.

There’s a certain level to which caring for the health of a human being is a job which is connected to the act of being human yourself. It is no surprise that most people want, at the very least, a supporting opinion from a real-life doctor, rather than relying on AI solely. The best way to handle this is to remain cautious but be clear with patients about why the medical professionals, in certain circumstances, would stake their career on some AI. Trying to remove the mysticism behind self-regulating machines is also key in making a patient feel more comfortable.

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2. Job Security

With AI being so powerful, there are many in medicine who fear losing their job to an AI with high level capabilities. AI take over is actually a serious risk in some industries, but, fortunately, healthcare is not one of them. At almost every step of the way human instinct, decision making, and interaction is crucial to carrying out healthcare. AI and humans would ideally end up working alongside one another, not in place of the other.

3. The Problem Of Data

Big data is dominant throughout all sectors of industry across the globe. It is a commodity that has been compared in value and influence to oil. Big data can be harnessed by AI-driven, automated machine learning, where computers spot trends which can be analyzed and used to great effect by the organization monitoring the process.

It can be invaluable in the medical field providing excellent analysis to spot trends to widespread for human capacities. But, in order to do that one must gather the data and if there’s a form of data which people are anxious not to have spread around the world recklessly, it is personal medical records. And already we’ve seen it happen causing serious doubts over the ethical issue of data privacy. The solution is to tightly regulate and to try and encrypt the connection between the data itself and the details of who it belongs to so that its potential loss causes no breach of privacy.

4. Lack Of Information

Fear of the unknown is one of the most powerful motivators out there. In terms of AI, this is extremely prescient. Most humans don’t understand AI enough to have a secure sense of what AI can and can’t do. In the case of a patient being told that part of their operation or their diagnosis is automated, not understanding the extent to which that has an impact is quite a big barrier to AI’s introduction into healthcare. Knowledge has to be spread to providers and patients of what exactly is happening for people to move beyond their own unfounded concerns.

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Conclusion

As much as it has potential to be absolutely vital in healthcare, artificial intelligence is having a bumpy start. With some increased knowledge and some efficient regulation and control, AI could find the place in healthcare that it has been afforded elsewhere but the road ahead is long and difficult.