AI.Care 2023: New report to drive national policy agenda

Wednesday, 15 November, 2023

AI.Care 2023: New report to drive national policy agenda

A new set of recommendations for safe and ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI) in health care hopes to drive a national policy agenda for the country.

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 the recommendations at the Australasian Institute of Digital Health's (AIDH's) AI.Care conference in Melbourne on 22 November 2023.

“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,” Coiera said.

“The governance of AI in health care needs to be one of the highest priorities for the nation,” he said.

AAAiH has developed a report, based on the recommendations, after extensive consultation with representatives from federal, state and territory government departments; research, regulatory and professional bodies; and consumer and industry representatives.

While AI is already being seen in some aspects of health care in Australia, taking full advantage of the potential benefits of AI will require a mature, coordinated and system-wide approach, Coiera said.

“AI offers significant new possibilities for improving clinical diagnosis, treatment and workflows. It holds the potential to turn Australian health care 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 health care.
  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.

Executive Dean of the RMIT University School of Computing Technologies and co-founder of AAAiH Professor Karin Verspoor said that uploading sensitive patient data into AI systems such as ChatGPT that sit outside of local security controls is just one of the issues that will prove problematic from a privacy and consent perspective.

Further, AI must be trained on data relevant to the population in which it will be used. It is therefore essential that Australia develop its own representative and robust data set on which to train AI, she said.

Coiera said investment by Australia in the adoption of AI has been fragmented, especially in health care.

This national plan will not only help to safeguard Australia, it will also bring the country into line with comparable nations such as the US and UK that have made substantial progress in investment and adoption of AI, he said.

AAAiH is an international community of practice with over 100 member organisations drawn from industry, health service providers, academia and consumer organisations.

The community 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 AIDH.

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