Fine Gael MEP for Ireland South, Deirdre Clune has spoken of the potential for Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to transform the healthcare landscape through enhancing clinical care, reducing the administrative strain on health systems and improving prevention.
MEP Clune, a Member of the European Parliament’s Health sub-committee and lead negotiator for the drafting the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act in Brussels says, “AI can serve as a valuable tool for doctors and nurses, streamlining their tasks and elevating patient outcomes.
“In the immediate short-term, many healthcare organisations are likely to start with applying generative AI to administrative tasks, but there is a growing role for this technology with clinical applications.
“One significant application is the ability of AI to augment diagnoses. Take colon cancer as an example. To detect this type of cancer, a standard colonoscopy is performed to manually identify and remove precancerous tissue.
“However, according to recent studies, it is estimated that as many as 1 in 4 cancerous lesions are missed during these routine screenings. AI assisted technologies can dramatically improve detection.
“AI software can be trained to identify precancerous tissue by looking at tens of thousands of pictures of them, and when it detects one during the colonoscopy, it prompts the doctor to make a closer examination.
“To realise the full potential value of AI, we must begin to think about how to best integrate these new technologies into our existing healthcare system – while also being aware of the risks”, MEP Clune added.
Under the EU’s proposed AI Act, AI systems used in healthcare would be classified as ‘high-risk’, including those dealing with patient healthcare information, which is particularly sensitive. Those high risk systems would be subject to greater transparency, risk management and data control requirements.
“It’s important to note that AI is not replacing a doctor or nurse, but rather providing them with additional insight.
“Balancing innovation with responsibility is key to ensuring patient safety and maintaining trust in the healthcare system.
“Now is the time that we put guardrails in place to maximise the potential and safety of AI technologies”, Clune concluded.