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Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: Steps in Overcoming Resistance in Adoption

When people hear the term Artificial Intelligence, the first thing that comes to mind is probably robots taking over jobs and rendering several humans jobless. Blame it on movies, novels or even documentaries but these concerns are here to stay. The Russian TV show with English voiceover and subtitles “Better than Us” is one of the most vivid examples of bot takeover of human jobs. With rapid growth AI-driven computers growing, especially in the medical space, there are concerns about AI taking over healthcare and these concerns just might be valid.

According to Dr. Muhammad Mamdani, Director of the Centre for AI Research and Education in Medicine (CAIREM) “Health care is lagging when it comes to the digital revolution and artificial intelligence, in comparison with other sectors. But it’s coming. There will be dramatic and transformative changes.”

Separating facts from fiction, AI in healthcare actually refers to doctors and hospitals retrieving multiple data sets with information that could potentially save lives. This includes several variables such as treatment methods and outcomes, survival rates, geographical locations, and sometimes interconnected health conditions. Other than scanning health records, machine learning can detect and analyze data and even make predictions through machine learning. Using AI as a powerful resource, Doctors take a more comprehensive approach for disease management, better coordinate care plans and help patients.

However, several researches show a reluctance in the adoption of AI ay patients. They consider the care by AI inferior to service by a human. According to a research in The Journal of Consumer Research, “there was a strong reluctance in adoption of procedures ranging from a skin cancer screening to pacemaker implant surgery. We found that when healthcare was provided by AI rather than by a human care provider, patients were less likely to utilize the service and wanted to pay less for it.”

To be able to fully harness the benefits of AI in healthcare, there needs to be a change in behavior of patients in the adoption of AI. Some key areas to be tackled include:

Transparency: Doctors need to explain the logic behind the AI they use to patients. This is a necessary step for building trust in AI. This element of human control allows patients develop trust in AI through their physicians.

Disclosure: Patients have the right to be aware that even the best AI could be subject to cyberattacks and other factors that could compromise its outcome. They also have the right to determine how their bodies will be treated. The more patients know about AI, the easier it would be to gain their trust and adoption.

Education: The education in AI goes both ways — Doctors need to be on top of development and updates regarding AI. The absence of any formal education in AI for physicians as well as their busy schedule might create a reluctance in adapting to new technology. A better understanding of these technologies will in turn boost physicians’ confidence in explaining AI care to patients.

Privacy: Data is the lifeblood of AI-driven health care. Patients usually disclose a lot of sensitive and private information to healthcare providers. Necessary consent in accordance to the privacy act should be obtained.

Representation: For AI to be accurate, the dataset entered need to be diverse enough to represent all the users. The results will be flawed if the dataset is not representative of the population it serves. AI healthcare should work for everyone.

According to Elad Walach, Founder and CEO of smart radiology company, Aidoc, “Societies will reap the cost savings and efficiency that are sure to follow if we do foster a culture of health care innovation, particularly in those fields genuinely bolstered by the huge potential of artificial intelligence.”

On the one hand, AI can aid lifesaving insights and efficiencies. But recipients must be fully informed, and all parties need to acknowledge that care can’t be fully outsourced. AI will only augment medical professionals’ daily tasks, making medical practitioners better at what they do.

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