5 Big Challenges AI Is Causing in Healthcare

However, despite these benefits, there are still major concerns about the use of artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry. While in some ways AI has proven beneficial, there are also some drawbacks that health professionals have been considering as they increasingly adopt these tools. The following are some of the potential problems that can arise with the use of AI, and the impact they can have on practitioners and patients alike.

Bias in Patient Care

Artificial intelligence is only as good as the information it’s given, so unfortunately, there’s a lot of potential for bias if the data in a system is homogeneous. Not having data from diverse patient populations can lead to poor health outcomes when certain factors, such as gender and race, are not considered by the technology.

For example, according to BMC Medicine, when AI systems predict whether moles are benign or malignant based on data provided from dermatologists, the technology may not be able to make accurate predictions about people from minority races. This can occur when the system has been trained primarily with images of patients who have fair skin, which leads to it being unable to recognize issues when patients have darker skin. This is a particularly alarming shortcoming since people of color suffering from advanced dermatological diseases are more likely to die from them. To prevent this, it’s imperative for artificial intelligence technologies to be trained with large amounts of diverse data, so it can recognize every patient population a healthcare facility works with.

Another type of AI bias that can be a problem in healthcare settings is automation bias, which is the tendency for people to have so much trust in technology that they fail to confirm the information they receive from the system. While artificial intelligence may be extremely reliable, complete confidence in AI can lead to healthcare providers becoming too complacent and dependent on the technology, which means there’s a possibility of missing errors that have devastating effects on patients.

Privacy Concerns

Artificial intelligence is useful because it can draw on large amounts of patient data to help healthcare providers make decisions. However, there are concerns about the extent to which all of this data will remain secure. The more AI technology is used, the more opportunities there may be for cyberattacks, so healthcare facilities must be vigilant about keeping their patient information safe.

Misunderstanding the Technology

Since artificial intelligence has been able to assist healthcare professionals in numerous ways, they may become so confident in the technology that they misunderstand its potential limitations. This can lead to people believing AI can do things for them it actually can’t, and these unrealistic expectations may cause serious problems with patient care.

Similarly, patients themselves may misunderstand AI to the point where they become suspicious of these technologies. This will make them reluctant to use the technology tools that help providers deliver care, such as AI monitoring technology, because they don’t understand how it works and how it will actually benefit them.

In both cases, education is the key to ensuring that AI tools are treated realistically. This way, people can temper their perceptions about the technology, both positive and negative.

Transparency Issues

One reason that trusting the recommendations made by AI may be an issue is because of the black box nature of how data is handled and decisions are made. Since it can be difficult to understand the reasoning algorithms use, health professionals may not feel entirely comfortable relying on these technologies for making patient care decisions. On the flip side, if providers depend on AI too much, they have no way of figuring out how the systems made the decisions they did, so they cannot necessarily replicate their reasoning.

This can additionally lead to issues with patients. Without the underlying reasoning for decisions made by AI technology, patients are not truly able to give informed consent for their treatments. Since patients have the right to information about the care they receive, it’s important for healthcare professionals to double-check recommendations provided by artificial intelligence. This allows providers to truly understand how the technology came to certain conclusions, determine whether or not those conclusions are appropriate, and openly communicate this information to their patients.

Job Losses

It’s no secret that there is a severe nursing shortage around the country—and one reason is employee turnover. In fact, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, 610,388 nurses plan to leave the profession by 2027 because of burnout, stress, and retirement. This has caused healthcare facilities to implement strategies to boost retention—including shifting workloads through the increased use of technology. AI may be an effective strategy for addressing the nursing shortage since the technology can take some of the pressure off of nurses by taking some tasks off their plate.

On the other hand, other workers in the healthcare field may not fare as well with the increased use of artificial intelligence. As certain tasks become more automated, such as bookkeeping, some healthcare workers are at risk of losing their jobs. Those who aren’t laid off may face a drastic reduction in wages as the use of AI increases and their responsibilities decrease.

The healthcare industry can reap many benefits from the use of AI, but the potential disadvantages need to be addressed for professionals to get the most out of it. Keeping issues like these top of mind will help ensure that as professionals use AI to help them do their jobs, patients still continue to get the quality of care they deserve.