Advertisment

The Growing Role of AI in Healthcare: Balancing Innovation and Patient Protection

author-image
Ethan Sulliva
New Update
NULL

The Growing Role of AI in Healthcare: Balancing Innovation and Patient Protection

Advertisment

AI's Expanding Role in Healthcare

Advertisment

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare is rapidly increasing, with a growing number of healthcare providers leveraging this technology to enhance patient care, streamline operations, and improve health outcomes. However, this expansion has prompted federal lawmakers to consider regulation measures that would protect patients from bias and discrimination, while also safeguarding their privacy.

Recognizing the potential of AI to transform the healthcare landscape, Senate lawmakers are keenly exploring the balance between protecting innovation and ensuring patient privacy. This is particularly crucial in the context of federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which serve millions of Americans.

The Algorithmic Accountability Act

Advertisment

One regulatory measure currently under consideration is the Algorithmic Accountability Act. If enacted, this law would require healthcare systems to regularly assess whether AI tools are being used as intended and are not perpetuating harmful bias. The Act comes in the wake of lawsuits filed against major Medicare Advantage insurers, alleging the use of AI algorithms to deny care.

In response to these concerns, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a memo outlining further guidance on the use of AI. Under this guidance, health insurance companies are barred from using AI or algorithms to determine coverage or deny care. Healthcare experts have also urged lawmakers to support healthcare organizations and health insurers navigating the use of AI tools by imposing guardrails and developing consensus-based standards.

Regulating AI in Healthcare: Senate Hearings

Advertisment

Recently, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the regulation of AI in healthcare, discussing topics such as payment policies, responsible use, and accountability. Lawmakers and witnesses debated over reimbursement for AI tools, the potential for AI to deny care en masse, and the hope that AI could help lower healthcare costs.

During the hearing, Senator Bernie Sanders voiced concerns about the exorbitant cost of lifesaving drugs, criticizing drugmaker CEOs. Meanwhile, the top-ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced his retirement.

Addressing Bias in AI

Advertisment

As AI's role in healthcare grows, so too does the concern over the potential for bias in AI-driven medical decision-making. During a Senate hearing, experts expressed concerns about racial bias in an AI tool used by healthcare providers. Siemens Healthineers, for example, highlighted their efforts to improve transparency around imaging AI and address concerns about bias.

There was a consensus on the need for a regulatory environment that balances safety and effectiveness while supporting AI innovation. Such an environment would ensure that AI tools enhance patient care without compromising patient rights or safety.

Global Perspectives on AI Regulation

Internationally, the European Union's AI Act is poised to become the first comprehensive AI law directly regulating AI systems based on inherent risk. This legislation, which will impact businesses intending to provide or deploy AI systems within the EU, is part of an ongoing effort to establish a robust regulatory framework for AI. Similarly, in the US, dynamic developments in regulatory guidance and best practices are underway, despite a federal framework for AI regulation falling short.

Looking forward to 2024, it is expected that there will be more experimentation in deploying different regulatory models, with agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and California's Privacy Protection Agency leading the way in this rapidly evolving field. With the growing use of AI in healthcare, the need for effective regulation to protect patients and foster innovation has never been stronger.

Advertisment
Chat with Dr. Medriva !