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Ethical Dimensions of Using Artificial Intelligence in Health Care

In their February 2019 issue, AMA Journal of Ethics wrote extensively about the ethics of the use of AI in healthcare. Find the full issue here.

As artificial intelligence grows more prevalent in healthcare, the importance of considering both the benefits and potential hazards of its use increases. Its ability to learn from just data sets allows AI to increase efficiency and be applicable in fields such as medical education, delivery of health care, and biomedical research. Examples of this application include diagnosis, clinical decision making, and personalized medicine. However, patient preference, safety, privacy, informed consent (especially making clear the possible dangers of AI to those involved), and patient autonomy all serve as risks that may come with the use of AI in healthcare.

Another potential shortcoming of AI is in its capability of predicting outcomes both accurately and equally across race, gender, or financial background. Some argue in favor of retooling medical education to better teach students how to interact with and use AI in their future work (including considering the moral issues that come with artificial intelligence).

The use of artificial intelligence for virtual patients in medical education serves as another route for the incorporation of AI in healthcare, albeit a role that comes with its own set of disadvantages. AI’s use in healthcare also creates legal and health policy issues; medical malpractice, product liability, and data security regarding the use of patient images in facial recognition software marking a few examples. While the benefits of using artificial intelligence in healthcare are many, having a dialogue on the ethics of its use in order to safely and effectively use it remains important.

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