European lawmakers have voted to push ahead with the European Union’s AI Act, covering everything from automated medical diagnoses to ChatGPT.
London Medical Laboratory has analysed the latest data to evaluate if AI in healthcare poses any threats.
Leading testing expert, Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan, Clinical Lead at London Medical Laboratory, said: “The risks and benefits of the rapid growth of AI are hotly debated, and there are few areas where AI will play such a significant role, for good or ill, than in healthcare.”
The five reasons they have identified to be fearful are:
- Misdiagnosis – should an AI system recommend the wrong medication, fail to identify a tumour on a scan, or allocate a hospital bed based on the wrong prediction about which patient would benefit more, patients could be harmed
- Malicious use – AI algorithms can be used to spread false health information, for example about supposed vaccine side effects, or to target vulnerable populations with fraud
- Data breaches – Hackers could attack vulnerabilities anywhere along the AI data pipeline and use health and contact information to obtain drugs or even for blackmail
- Reflecting cultural bias – communities that have lesser recognition of certain conditions, due to poorer health information, stigmatisation and cultural differences, may present less to healthcare providers
- Apocalypse – A new paper by leading international health professionals published in ‘BMJ Global Health’ claims AI ‘could pose an existential threat to humanity itself’.
The positive reasons are:
- Improving diagnostics – IBM says AI tools are now being used to analyse CT scans, x-rays and MRIs and other images for lesions that a human radiologist might miss
- Speeding up appointments – AI can automate some of the admin tasks that take up much of medical practices’ time today, like booking appointments and updating records
- Monitoring illnesses – AI algorithms can monitor patients’ vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure, and alert doctors if there is a sudden change
- Predicting problems – By analysing big data, AI can help identify new disease outbreaks early
- Telemedicine – AI can help provide around-the-clock support through chatbots that can answer basic questions and give patients resources when their practice isn’t open.
Dr Hari Narayanan concluded: “The AI healthcare market is already a billion-dollar industry. In the future, it could also pave the way for the growth of precision medicine. AI could study patients’ medical history, preferences and personal needs and integrate this with their DNA genetic profiles.”