Building Public Trust in the Age of AI

By Sumona Bose

January 31, 2024

Introduction

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become increasingly prevalent in the healthcare industry, reforming the way we diagnose, treat, and manage diseases. However, the successful implementation of AI in healthcare requires not only advanced technology but also strong governance and public trust. In this article, we look into the implications of mistrust in AI and explore the importance of building public trust in this rapidly evolving field.

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Figure 1: Key challenges in medical AI relate to one another and to clinical care

The Complexity of AI Governance

McKinsey & Company, a leading life sciences consulting firm, emphasizes the need for robust governance and administrative mechanisms to manage the risks associated with AI systems. They suggest involving three expert groups: the algorithm developers, validators, and operational staff. This multi-disciplinary approach ensures that AI systems are designed, implemented, and retired with proper oversight and accountability.

Clear Research Questions and Hypotheses

Any study involving AI should begin with a clear research question and a falsifiable hypothesis. By explicitly stating the AI architecture, training data, and intended purpose of the model, researchers can identify potential oversights in study design. For example, a researcher developing an AI model to diagnose pneumonia may inadvertently overlook the need to train the model.

Understanding Model Verification

Model verification is a critical step in AI research, requiring a deep understanding of abstract concepts such as overfitting and data leakage. Without this understanding, analysts may draw incorrect conclusions about the effectiveness of a model. It is essential to ensure that AI models are rigorously tested and validated before their implementation in real-world healthcare settings.

Challenges in Conceptualizing Medical Problems

AI models are designed to produce reliable results that match the standards set by human experts. However, this becomes challenging when there is no consensus among experts on the pathophysiology or nosology of a clinical presentation. Even when a standard does exist, AI models can still perpetuate errors or biases present in the training data. It is crucial to address these challenges and ensure that AI models are accurate, unbiased, and aligned with the best practices of medical professionals.

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Figure 2: This table summarizes how accredited expert groups–developers, validators, and operational staff–can help overcome the key challenges in medical AI. Node color represents the type of challenge: conceptual (orange), technical (green), or humanistic (pink).

 

Building Literacy in AI for Healthcare Workers

To ensure the successful integration of AI in healthcare, it is essential to equip healthcare workers with literacy in AI. This can be achieved by incorporating AI education into the medical curriculum, providing opportunities for specialization in “digital medicine.”

Conclusion

To fully harness the potential of AI, it is crucial to address the implications of mistrust and build public trust.  Prioritizing robust governance, clear research questions, model verification, and addressing conceptual challenges is key. We can ensure that AI in healthcare is accurate, unbiased, and aligned with the best practices of medical professionals. Equipping healthcare workers with literacy in AI will further enhance the successful integration of this technology into the healthcare system.

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