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Biden’s order on AI in healthcare: Digital health leaders weigh pros and cons

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Large health systems and payers are committing to use AI responsibly. A host of healthcare technology leaders examine issues to watch in the future.

Several weeks after President Biden issued an executive order regarding AI in healthcare, some leading health organizations are pledging to use AI responsibly.

Image credit: ©doganmesut - stock.adobe.com

Digital health leaders say the government needs to ensure there are guardrails in the development of AI in healthcare. (Image credit: ©doganmesut - stock.adobe.com)

A group of 28 health systems and payer organizations have made voluntary commitments to use AI in healthcare in an ethical manner, the White House announced last week.

They are vowing to use AI to expand access to healthcare, make healthcare more affordable, and to improve outcomes. They say they are committing to using AI safely. They also say they will disclose if content on their websites is AI-generated and not edited by a human. (The full list of organizations is below.)

In the executive order issued in late October, the White House said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will develop a safety program to deal with unsafe healthcare practices involving the use of AI. The department will set up a process to take reports of improper practices and address harms related to the use of AI. The White House also pledged to offer grants for AI research in healthcare.

Healthcare technology leaders hailed Biden’s executive order on AI as a significant event. Digital health leaders welcome the administration’s attention to AI, but some also point to issues necessary to protect patients and ensure AI technologies don’t perpetuate bias. Some also warn about excessive government interference stifling development.

Below, healthcare technology leaders share optimism, caution and recommendations about the ethical use of AI in healthcare.

Tim O'Connell, CEO & Cofounder, emtelligent

“As a practicing radiologist, I can say with confidence that AI in healthcare isn’t viable unless clinicians can trust it. This means AI must provide accurate and verifiable information for clinicians at the point of care and for medical research. As AI technologies continue to mature, safety must be a priority. Government oversight, such as the recent executive order, is a welcomed step, including the vital guidance for building AI algorithms that are transparent and diverse enough to ensure equity.”

Mark Dill, Chief Information Security Officer, MedAllies

“If everyone follows the AI safety roadmap as proposed, our safety, security and privacy may be preserved. However, mistakes will likely still happen and questions remain about how the government will enforce acceptable use. It will be important that leaders thoughtfully address how to resolve the inevitable errors that will occur with AI.”

Rhonda Collins, DNP, RN, FAAN, Chief Clincal Officer at Artisight

“Artificial Intelligence has seemingly limitless potential to improve care quality and increase satisfaction for patients and clinicians alike. As health leaders, we should work with federal regulators to suggest and implement common-sense guidelines that ensure patient and clinician safety without hindering innovation and progress.”

Jay Anders, MD, chief medical officer, Medicomp Systems

“Regarding healthcare IT, patient safety and health equity are some of the critical issues addressed. Transparency in how these systems operate is also important. This technology needs to learn to walk before we run head-on into adoption in healthcare. Everyone is looking for a new shiny object that will assist in creating better healthcare, but I think these AI technologies have a lot of learning to do before that can happen.”

Meghan Leaver, co-founder of PEP Health

“Generative AI has the potential to bring significant productivity and innovations into healthcare, however it must be managed appropriately. In the work being done to apply large language models and natural language processing, validation and training is key to ensuring safety and that the models do not drift from their intention. Coupled with representative data and feedback collected from all parts of the population, languages, and communities, we can help ensure that AI-driven insights limit bias and discrimination, leading to more trusted, safe, and responsible use.”

Jonathan Shoemaker, CEO of ABOUT Healthcare

“As the current administration looks to regulate safe and ethical AI practices in healthcare, we need to ensure process measures yield better health outcomes. I believe the impact AI can have on clinical care is further out than many predict, however by promoting innovation and technological advancement in concert with responsible regulation, we can unleash its potential to drive better outcomes and revolutionize healthcare while also maintaining the utmost standards of safety and ethical conduct.”

Justin Norden, MD, Partner at GSR Ventures

“We’ve been living in the wild west of AI in healthcare. The executive order around safe, secure, and trustworthy AI will bring structure and guardrails around the deployment of AI in both the clinical and administrative healthcare settings. Today in specific areas such as AI for diagnostic imaging, there are clear rules set by the FDA - we will see rules expand to many other aspects for AI in healthcare. New technical infrastructure will be needed for health systems to test and monitor the deployment of AI to comply with incoming regulations.”

Rahul Sharma, CEO of HSBlox

“President Biden's executive order on AI lays out a concrete timeline along with the goals that need to be achieved. Within the first six months, the goals include issuing guidance to healthcare providers on their obligations under non-discrimination laws as they relate to AI, publishing a roadmap to promote responsible AI for addressing access to benefits, denials etc., and prioritizing AI healthcare grants, especially for those focused on underserved communities. Within the next year, the broader goals are to develop a strategy for AI regulation throughout drug and medical device development processes, plus to put an AI safety program in place to capture clinical errors caused by AI and analysis of this data to ensure we can avoid harm to patients. This would lead to stricter controls in the audit and certification processes and force insurance carriers to upgrade their IT infrastructures to ensure compliance.”

Amanda Bury, chief commercial officer at Infermedica

“President Biden's executive order on AI regulations marks a vital first step in the journey to govern the ever-changing realm of artificial intelligence. While it may not be perfect, it represents a significant milestone in addressing the challenges of AI technology. With AI impacting such high stakes domains like healthcare, this order takes a step towards establishing new regulatory and safety boards dedicated to the responsible oversight of AI—a clear sign that AI is not just a side task, but a primary focus. The path ahead may be complex, but by fostering innovation and technology advancement in parallel with responsible regulation, we can unlock the full potential of AI to improve patient outcomes and transform healthcare while upholding the highest standards of safety and ethical practice.”

Charanya Kannan, chief product, engineering & customer officer of Talkdesk

“President Biden's executive order on artificial intelligence signifies a commendable step towards addressing safety, equity, and labor market implications. As AI continues to shape our world, it is essential that thorough assessments and guidance are in place. However, it is also equally important that the administration promotes innovation in this area for the nation to stay ahead and be a leader in driving AI innovations in a responsible way.”

Pawan Jindal, CEO, Darena Solutions

“In the pursuit of advancing healthcare through AI, it's crucial to strike a practical balance: regulations must be designed not to stifle innovation but to channel it safely. The White House's directive acknowledges this conundrum. Yet, the true measure of its success will hinge on its implementation. Effective policy should act as a guardrail, ensuring that AI serves the public without diminishing the creative and technological breakthroughs AI could drive in medicine.”

Voluntary commitments

Here’s the full list of health organizations pledging to use AI responsibly: Allina Health, Bassett Healthcare Network, Boston Children’s Hospital, Curai Health, CVS Health, Devoted Health, Duke Health, Emory Healthcare, Endeavor Health, Fairview Health Systems, Geisinger, Hackensack Meridian, HealthFirst (Florida), Houston Methodist, John Muir Health, Keck Medicine, Main Line Health, Mass General Brigham, Medical University of South Carolina Health, Oscar, OSF HealthCare, Premera Blue Cross, Rush University System for Health, Sanford Health, Tufts Medicine, UC San Diego Health, UC Davis Health, and WellSpan Health.



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