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AMA Passes Policy Recommendations on Augmented Intelligence

June 19, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The American Medical Association (AMA) last week passed its first policy addressing augmented intelligence (AI), adopting broad policy recommendations for health and technology stakeholders on this issue.

AMA officials noted a recent survey of physicians on the barriers to adoption of digital health technologies, which suggested that physicians are most receptive to digital health tools they believe can be integrated smoothly into their current practice, will improve care, and will enhance patient-physician relationships. Earlier AMA research into physician professional satisfaction found that frustrations with electronic health records (EHRs), especially usability issues, were a major source of dissatisfaction in physicians’ professional lives.

As such, AMA leaders believe that the promise of augmented intelligence (AI) in spurring technological innovation in medicine has generated growing interest among healthcare stakeholders. It also has spurred a range of concerns about the novel challenges in the design, implementation, and use—especially how AI will be incorporated into the practice of medicine and affect patients, they say. Indeed, AI systems ought to be developed and evaluated in keeping with best practices in user-centered design.

The policy, addressed at the AMA Annual Meeting in Chicago, states that AMA will:

  • Leverage its ongoing engagement in digital health and other priority areas for improving patient outcomes and physicians’ professional satisfaction to help set priorities for healthcare AI.
  • Identify opportunities to integrate the perspective of practicing physicians into the development, design, validation and implementation of healthcare AI.
  • Promote development of thoughtfully designed, high-quality, clinically validated healthcare AI that: 1) is designed and evaluated in keeping with best practices in user-centered design, particularly for physicians and other members of the healthcare team; 2) is transparent;  3) conforms to leading standards for reproducibility; 4) identifies and takes steps to address bias and avoids introducing or exacerbating healthcare disparities including when testing or deploying new AI tools on vulnerable populations; and 5) safeguards patients’ and other individuals’ privacy interests and preserves the security and integrity of  personal information.
  • Encourage education for patients, physicians, medical students, other healthcare professionals, and health administrators to promote greater understanding of the promise and limitations of healthcare AI.
  • Explore the legal implications of healthcare AI, such as issues of liability or intellectual property, and advocate for appropriate professional and governmental oversight for safe, effective, and equitable use of and access to healthcare AI.

“As technology continues to advance and evolve, we have a unique opportunity to ensure that augmented intelligence is used to benefit patients, physicians, and the broad healthcare community,” AMA Board Member Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., said in a statement. Combining AI methods and systems with an irreplaceable human clinician can advance the delivery of care in a way that outperforms what either can do alone. But we must forthrightly address challenges in the design, evaluation and implementation as this technology is increasingly integrated into physicians’ delivery of care to patients.”

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