AI and Healthcare: Understanding the Ethics and Challenges

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve likely already heard of the term ‘AI’. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, the idea of AI tends to conjure up images of semi-sentient, humanoid robots, intent on taking over the world. 

Realistically, however, AI is related to the creation of advanced software that can assist with several historically human-performed functions. In the medical world, AI can help deliver better, more efficient treatment and more cost-effective care. It can also be extremely beneficial to advancing scientific research in the field of medicine. 

Despite this, there are some challenges in terms of the implementation of AI in the healthcare system. Using AI instead of traditional treatment methods can pose several ethical issues, and not everyone is pro-AI in the medical industry. 

Interested in learning more? Let’s discuss.

AI: What is it, Exactly?

It’s the digital age and AI is a term that is constantly being thrown around. But, what exactly is AI? Well, to clarify, AI is short for Artificial Intelligence, and it refers to computer-generated programs and software that can assist with performing many different tasks. Historically, these are tasks that would ordinarily have been performed by humans. But, due to rapid advances and developments in digital technology today, using AI to execute these functions has become the way of the future. 

Importantly, Artificial Intelligence can assist with several different healthcare functions. It can even be used to provide much needed care to patients who need access to mental healthcare treatment. To learn more about how Artificial Intelligence can be used in mental healthcare settings today, studying a Master of Mental Health can assist in gaining a better understanding of these recent and emerging developments. 

Can Artificial Intelligence Assist with Healthcare?

In short, the answer is yes. Ongoing advancements in digital technology can help immensely in the delivery of medical treatment, the diagnosis of illnesses and diseases, and of course, scientific research. Most importantly, when used correctly, artificial intelligence can deliver faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective healthcare. However, implementing the use of AI in healthcare is not without its challenges. 

Let’s explore this further.  

What are the Ethics and Challenges of AI in Healthcare?

According to some medical experts, the use of Artificial Intelligence in healthcare poses some ethical issues. Some of these challenges include:

Confidentiality: How Private is Our Medical Data When it is Exposed to AI?

With hacking, cyberattacks and digital data breaches on the rise, how safe is our medical information if we place it into the hands of AI programs? Indeed, it would simply take a hacker gaining unauthorised access to medical software to compromise the privacy of vulnerable medical patients. And, once the cybercriminal has their grasp on this sensitive data, there is virtually nothing to stop them from using it with malicious intent. 

Does the Use of AI Healthcare Deepen the Divide Between Nations? 

Needless to say, medical treatment in developing countries already lags far behind the healthcare that is provided to patients in more privileged nations. So, with more and more focus and scientific research being conducted into AI in the first world, is there a chance that third-world healthcare could be left behind? If nothing else, this will likely widen the social gap between advanced and developing nations. 

Can AI Bots Take Our Healthcare Professionals’  Jobs?

Next, a somewhat controversial question. With advances in digital technology rapidly occurring, is there a risk that healthcare jobs could be taken away from humans? Of course, the more sophisticated AI technology becomes, the less need for human involvement. For this reason, it is justified to think that our medical teams could be at risk of being replaced by AI functions. 

Can a Robot Provide Compassionate Care?

Empathy, sympathy and compassion are central to the delivery of effective healthcare treatment. Indeed, medical staff are very often called upon to act as caregivers, and emotional support systems, as well as to provide a caring shoulder for patients and their families to cry on in difficult moments. Can a robot do that? Surely not. As such, it can be argued that the medical treatment that can be provided through AI would be grossly lacking in the warmth required to be considered compassionate, human-centric care. 

Irrespective of these challenges, however, the truth is that AI in healthcare is a concept that is here to stay – and one that we will likely continue to explore, well into the future.

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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