New research outlines guidelines for the ethical use of AI in healthcare

pharmafile | May 20, 2020 | News story | Research and Development AI, coronavirus 

A new study published in The Lancet has called on the global health community to establish guidelines to develop and facilitate the ethical use of AI in the medical world.

According to the team, AI is already being used to effectively combat the coronavirus pandemic including managing patient risk assessment and patient flow. However, while it is effective in helping tackle the viral outbreak there are few regulations to ensure that its use is always appropriate.

This research was developed by Nina Schwalbe, MPH, adjunct professor in the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and Dr Brian Wahl, assistant scientist in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dr Wahl and Schwalbe developed several recommendations for the future of AI in healthcare:

-Incorporate aspects of human-centered design into the development process

-Ensure rapid and equitable access to representative datasets

-Establish global systems for assessing and reporting efficacy and effectiveness of AI-driven interventions in global health

-Develop a research agenda that includes implementation and system-related questions on the deployment of new AI-driven interventions

-Develop and implement global regulatory, economic, and ethical standards and guidelines that safeguard the interests of LMICs

Schwalbe said on their recommendations that: “In the eye of the COVID-19 storm, now more than ever we must be vigilant to apply regulatory, ethical, and data protection standards. We hold ourselves to ethical standards around proving interventions work before we roll them out at scale. Without this, we risk undermining the vulnerable populations we are best trying to support.

“We cannot ignore what we know about the importance of human-centered design and gender bias of algorithms. Thinking through how AI interventions will be adapted within the context of the health systems in which they are deployed must be part of every study.”

These recommendations were created after an extensive review of peer-reviewed literature, and seek to help improvements to health in low and middle-income countries, and help them achieve universal health coverage and reach their sustainable development goals.

Conor Kavanagh

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