Artificial Intelligence or AI has attained continuous evolution over the years and witnessed widespread adoption across major industries of the globe. The Forbes report of December 2021mentions that the number of AI startups since 2000 has increased 14 times, and investments in AI startups have grown six times. It underlines the fact that the AI industry, powered by its path-breaking developments and innovations, has always been an attractive and trending option in the market.
Within a very few years, AI has taken over different segments of healthcare like wellness, early detection, diagnosis, decision making, treatment, research, training, public health functions (surveillance and outbreak response), virtual care etc. A study by Accenture claims that AI-enabled devices and gadgets meet 20% of the clinical demands, and this has reduced the unnecessary visits to hospitals by a great number.
Applications of AI in healthcare is broadly categorised into 3 segments, namely, Patient-oriented AI; Clinician-oriented AI; and Administrative-oriented AI. The transformative role of AI in healthcare is undeniable, as it scripts new journey for patients and practitioners, alike.
According to Healthcare IT News, 63% of the research subjects agree to the observation that the devices and machinery enabled by AI have provided excellent value to the specialty healthcare divisions like radiology, generic pharmacy, pathology, etc.
The rapid growth of AI in highly delicate domains like healthcare calls for great promise to accelerate diagnosis and treatment. At the same time, it also puts ethics, patient safety and privacy concerns at the heart of it; thereby calling for a framework of governance. Gartner report of July 2019 predicted the application of AI in more than 75% of the healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs) around the globe.
Since most of these HDOs are new to adopting and applying AI-enabled machinery and services, AI governance is crucial to prevent the actions that may lead to errors, misjudgements and further chaos. Moreover, the degree of variance in the application of AI is high, and therefore it is not advised to implement the AI mechanisms without proper guidance or governance.
From AI-enabled smart bands to pacemakers, the range of devices and gadgets offered by the AI industry is simply remarkable. The implementation of AI in the healthcare sector has proven to be highly effective in drastically reducing the scope of slipups. Moreover, AI has also facilitated early detection of illness with the help of daily use gadgets and devices in a smart way.
At this juncture, it is equally important to create data governance framework that ensure ethical principles are applied to patient, providers and payers’ data. Further, AI initiatives by healthcare providers should be created using transparent protocols, auditable methodologies and metadata. These technologies should do no harm, reduce biases and help patients make informed decisions about their care.
A significant part of AI governance also lies in change management. To build trust towards AI’s adoption across the healthcare ecosystem, there should be a dialogue between clinicians, scientists, technologist and end-users. Such discussions will address the opportunities, value and investment, including concerns across the stakeholders.
In fact, prominent think tanks suggest healthcare providers to establish an AI Governance Council to monitor the value, investment and use of strategic AI capabilities. Some of the crucial roles and responsibilities for the Council include addressing legal and regulatory compliance; clinical evaluations; ethical usage guidelines and organisational deployment of AI across the system.
AI is indeed a revolutionary technology that has huge surprises up its sleeves for the future. But exploring new frontiers comes with its fair share of challenges. Establishing appropriate governance over AI implementation and initiating a conversation around the ethical implications and regulations as well, will play a fundamental role in the introduction and scale-up of AI in healthcare.