A national plan for the safe and ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare will be launched at the leading AI in healthcare conference, AI.Care, in Melbourne on 22 November 2023.
Professor Enrico Coiera, Director at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, and founder of the Australian Alliance for AI in Healthcare (AAAiH) will release recommendations from the report devised to drive a national policy agenda for Australia’s safe and ethical use of AI in healthcare.
Professor Coiera said “Australia needs to move fast to safeguard patients and support our healthcare and AI sectors, while taking advantage of the benefits and mitigating the risks of AI.”
“The governance of AI in healthcare needs to be one of the highest priorities for the nation,” he said.
The report has been developed by AAAiH after extensive consultation with representatives from federal, state and territory government departments, research, regulatory and professional bodies, as well as consumer and industry representatives.
While AI is already being seen in some aspects of healthcare in Australia, taking full advantage of the potential benefits of AI will require a mature, coordinated and system-wide approach, said Professor Coiera.
“AI offers significant new possibilities for improving clinical diagnosis, treatment, and workflows. It holds the potential to turn Australian healthcare into a learning system that is more agile, adaptive, personalised, safe, effective, and equitable, across research and development, into clinical settings and at home for patients and their families,” he said.
Policy recommendations focus on five priority areas:
1. AI safety, quality, ethics and security – ensuring the safe use of AI in healthcare.
2. Workforce – enabling essential training and development of the healthcare and AI workforce.
3. Consumers – ensuring health AI literacy.
4. Industry – supporting industry to thrive and be competitive.
5. Research – guiding the research that will protect Australia’s national interest.
AI offers enormous opportunity to revolutionise healthcare in Australia, but it also comes with risks that need to be managed to ensure the safety and privacy of patients, said Professor Coiera.
Executive Dean of the RMIT University School of Computing Technologies and co-founder of AAAiH, Professor Karin Verspoor, noted that uploading sensitive patient data into AI systems such as ChatGPT which sit outside of local security controls is just one of the issues that will prove problematic from a privacy and consent perspective.
AAAiH has been supported in development of the National Policy Roadmap for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare by Macquarie University, the CSIRO Australian eHealth Research Centre, RMIT University, the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre, and the Australasian Institute of Digital Health (organiser of the AI.Care conference).