WHO Establishes Ethical Framework for Healthcare AI to Enhance Patient Treatment and Promote Accountable Development

by | Jan 20, 2024

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently introduced guidelines for the ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare. These guidelines aim to encourage responsible innovation in the field while improving patient care. With AI making significant progress in healthcare, it is important to find a balance between innovation and ethics.

One area highlighted by the WHO is the use of AI in detecting breast cancer. Radiologists can now use AI algorithms to analyze mammograms with greater accuracy, potentially leading to earlier detection and better patient outcomes. This is a significant advancement in the fight against breast cancer.

However, the guidelines also address the potential problems of AI in healthcare. The use of large multimodal models (LMMs) in generative AI has raised concerns about producing false or inaccurate statements. Insufficient training data can unintentionally lead to these issues, emphasizing the need for transparency and accountability in AI system development and design.

To ensure responsible implementation, the WHO recommends that governments invest in not-for-profit or public infrastructure. This would promote access to AI technology and data while ensuring fairness and equal distribution. Additionally, involving regulatory agencies in approving LMMs and healthcare apps is suggested to guarantee adherence to ethical principles and patient safety.

Pennsylvania Governor, Josh Shapiro, has shown proactive leadership in this area by partnering with OpenAI, a leading AI research organization. This partnership aims to explore the potential of AI in improving government services and communication, demonstrating Governor Shapiro’s dedication to AI governance. Furthermore, the establishment of an AI governing board in Pennsylvania will provide guidance on the state’s use of AI technology.

The guidelines stress the importance of independent auditing and impact assessment for large-scale use of generative AI. These assessments should be conducted by third parties and include results separated by patient demographics. This approach allows for identifying and addressing potential biases and disparities, creating a more inclusive and fair healthcare system.

In addition, the WHO emphasizes involving various stakeholders in the development, oversight, and regulation of AI in healthcare. Collaboration between tech companies, healthcare providers, governments, patients, and others is crucial in establishing a strong framework that ensures responsible and ethical AI implementation.

Beyond breast cancer detection, AI has the potential to revolutionize healthcare in various ways. It can assist healthcare professionals in responding to patient inquiries, investigating symptoms and treatments, documenting patient visits, providing training simulations, and identifying new compounds for research and drug development. These advancements can improve patient care, enhance diagnostic accuracy, and streamline healthcare processes.

However, as AI continues to advance, addressing ethical concerns becomes crucial. The WHO recommends making AI technology and data accessible through not-for-profit or public infrastructure to avoid worsening existing healthcare disparities. By prioritizing transparency, inclusivity, and accountability, AI can be used as a powerful tool to enhance human capabilities and improve healthcare outcomes.

The release of ethical guidelines for AI in healthcare by the WHO is a significant step in ensuring responsible and fair implementation of this transformative technology. While AI has great potential in revolutionizing healthcare, finding a balance between innovation and ethics is essential. By following these guidelines, governments, healthcare providers, and tech companies can together create a future where AI serves as a valuable ally in improving patient care and enhancing healthcare experiences.