By Katie Brenneman, Writer, Researcher
With health system executives investing more and more each year in AI, the global AI market in healthcare is expected to reach around $120 billion by 2028. Already, the innovations that are available that leverage AI are making a significant impact on the industry.
From more optimized hospitals and doctor’s offices to improved patient care, AI is transforming the healthcare setting. However, as with any new technology, there are risks and challenges associated with adopting AI.
One of the primary concerns with AI is the increase in sensitive data generated and shared digitally. However, if used correctly, AI has the power to significantly improve security measures in the healthcare industry and reduce instances of error. Already, numerous healthcare facilities are experiencing the positive impacts of adopting AI and other advanced technologies.
This article will explore the challenges created by the integration of AI into healthcare settings as well as the benefits it provides, specifically with regard to improved security and safety protocols.
The Challenges of AI in Healthcare
One of the primary concerns that emerged with the advent of AI was the ethical implication of using such technology. No matter how good an AI-powered system is at mimicking human thought, for example, it still only relies on the information that was used to code it. In other words, AI can and does show bias.
AI on its own is ethically neutral, but it still relies on internal algorithms that are based on the information that someone input into the system during coding. Thus, if the person who did the coding was biased, then the AI will act in a biased way. Simply assuming that AI lacks bias because it is a robot that is neutral is harmful and can lead to outcomes that can be damaging for patients.
There is also the matter of data privacy in healthcare AI. AI-powered systems have the ability to gather and process data on levels well beyond what humans are capable of. Unfortunately, this has led to concerns with regard to what is happening to all that data. Is it secure or is it being shared with other parties?
With so much data being collected and processed, there is also the concern of data being stolen and compromised. People want to know where all this data is being stored and who has access to it.
There is also the challenge of understanding. There is a significant gap between technology and actually knowing how to use it properly. And when AI systems are abused or used incorrectly, it can create security risks and be harmful to patients.
All of that said, as AI has been around for a while now and we have learned from past mistakes, healthcare organizations are taking steps to address and mitigate those risks and issues. This includes establishing better training protocols for staff that utilize AI, developing more comprehensive risk management programs revolving around AI, enforcing more strict security protocols, and emphasizing patient agency and consent when collecting their data.
The Positive Impacts of AI on Healthcare
Despite concerns, it is believed that AI can make the healthcare industry safer and more secure when technologies are used ethically. Two of the primary benefits are a safer workplace and the ability to better mitigate cybersecurity threats.
Enhanced Workplace Safety Protocols
Healthcare settings, especially hospitals, can be hazardous environments for workers. Management can optimize workflows and create safer environments by using AI in the workplace.
AI-powered robots, for example, can handle certain tasks that come with a higher risk of injury, such as dealing with toxic chemicals and substances. AI technologies can also enhance monitoring capabilities, which can help with automating emergency responses and analyzing safety procedures.
AI systems can also gather and analyze large amounts of data, offering insights into the safety performance of employees. This can enable management or executives to make changes and improvements in procedures as needed to better comply with safety standards.
Predictive analysis powered by AI can also monitor activities in the healthcare setting to look for potential anomalies in operations. If an anomaly is detected, the system can alert management so the issue can be dealt with in a more efficient manner.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has even pointed out the benefit of using AI to improve organizational safety protocols in the workplace.
From a cybersecurity standpoint, AI is helping healthcare organizations safeguard patient data and fortify digital infrastructures. Despite concerns that AI is making people less secure, it can and does help do the opposite.
AI plays an important role in cybersecurity. As healthcare organizations digitize their processes, this does mean that more sensitive data is being stored and shared online. As such, cybercriminals are increasingly adopting newer, more advanced methods of breaching systems to steal data. But this is exactly why AI is necessary.
AI is extremely valuable because it can improve security measures, enabling healthcare facilities to better protect themselves, their patients, and their systems from known threats. For example, AI can monitor systems and provide alerts when suspicious activity is detected, which can help stop breaches before they happen.
AI can also control who has access to what, which can limit sensitive data from being shared with too many people, which is often how information gets hacked, leaked, or stolen. Smart technologies also have the ability to analyze data to identify patterns that indicate a potential threat, which enables these systems to predict future cybersecurity threats.
AI is already playing an important role in helping healthcare organizations to create safer and more secure workplaces, for both the staff and the patients. So long as ethical implications and challenges are being kept in mind and steps are taken to mitigate those issues, AI has the power to revolutionize the healthcare setting.