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Spain

EIT Health calls for the responsible use of AI in healthcare

18th May 2023

  • On World Telecommunications Day (17 May), EIT Health Spain highlights the benefits of artificial intelligence in the diagnosis, treatment planning and monitoring of patients, especially those with chronic conditions, and makes a series of recommendations for its application.
  • The legal and ethical implications and the potential bias and lack of data quality are some of the challenges for the implementation of AI in healthcare identified by EIT Health Spain.

On World Telecommunications and Information Society Day, EIT Health Spain, a Co-Location Centre (regional hub) of EIT Health, which is part of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, calls for the transformative capacity of artificial intelligence in the healthcare sector while highlighting the benefits and challenges of its use. 

In medical diagnosis, treatment planning and chronic patient monitoring, AI can provide improved healthcare outcomes, including early disease detection, personalised treatment plans and real-time patient monitoring. 

For EIT Health Spain these are the 10 recommendations to be addressed for a successful and responsible implementation of Artificial Intelligence in healthcare systems in Spain and Europe: 

  1. Data quality and availability: AI systems require high-quality, reliable and accurate data to generate valuable results. However, this remains a major challenge in Spanish healthcare systems, even though they are among the most digitised in Europe.
  2. Interoperability and integration: Integration of AI systems with existing healthcare infrastructure requires interoperability standards to ensure seamless data exchange between systems and devices.
  3. Legal and ethical implications: AI systems rely largely on patient data, which raises privacy, security, and consent issues. AI systems must comply with legal and ethical frameworks, including data protection rules and the right to privacy.
  4. Bias and impartiality: AI systems can exhibit biases, especially in healthcare, where certain populations may be under-represented in datasets, perpetuating or amplifying existing biases. Hence the importance of accountability and transparency in AI systems, especially where it is used to make decisions that may have a significant impact on the health of patients.
  5. Governance and accountability: AI systems require a clear governance structure and accountability mechanisms to ensure responsible use in healthcare that must be regulated to ensure patient safety and quality of care.
  6. Adoption and trust of clinicians: AI systems must be accepted and trusted by healthcare professionals to ensure effective implementation.
  7. Acceptance by patients: Patients need to be informed about the use of AI systems in their care and be confident that their privacy and confidentiality are being protected.
  8. Technical complexity: The development and implementation of AI systems require specialised technical expertise, which can be a challenge for healthcare organisations.
  9. Cost and profitability: AI systems can be costly to develop and implement, and it can be a challenge to demonstrate cost-effectiveness.
  10. Education and training: Healthcare providers and staff require education and training to understand the benefits and limitations of AI systems and how to use them effectively.

The role of EIT Health 

EIT Health is a network of public and private experts across the healthcare innovation value chain and can play a significant role in advancing the use of AI to transform healthcare delivery safely and responsibly.  

Through its Think Tank, it promotes the creation of ethical standards and norms for using AI in healthcare, working in collaboration with experts in ethics and regulation. The report “Healthcare Workforce and Organisational Transformation with AI – Enacting Change” published in 2020 is an example of this. In addition, in 2023, EIT Health launched a European-wide initiative to assess the implementability of the European Health Data Space, one of the drivers for regulating primary and secondary use through AI-based technologies. 

EIT Health also promotes education, innovation and acceleration programmes focused on technology transfer to the healthcare system, in two key strategic areas: using health data for innovation and adopting digital health devices in Europe. 

EIT Health Spain promotes close collaboration between AI experts and healthcare professionals to ensure that AI-based solutions are developed responsibly, adapted to the real needs of patients and implemented safely in clinical practice, always to improve care and health outcomes. 

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