As artificial intelligence and automation continue to advance industries from healthcare to financial services and beyond, there’s a critical conversation happening around the ethical implementation of these technologies. There’s no doubt that AI has massive applications in healthcare, touching everything from biomedical research to robotic surgeries to claims processing. From a global perspective, AI could lower costs and improve care across the system, benefitting every single patient, provider and payer. Already, AI is being used to predict birth asphyxia in developing countries1, reading mammograms to detect breast cancer2 and helping predict toxicity in new drug research3. As the datasets get larger and richer and the technologies advance, the applications and possibilities will continue to skyrocket. But before AI can have the massive impact experts predict, the ethical concerns around responsible application of artificial intelligence need to be addressed.
Healthcare AI ethics concerns
In healthcare, specifically, ethical concerns are central to the responsible application of these transformative technologies. Where people’s health and health privacy are concerned, a high ethical standard is a must. Besides the morality and legality of AI – a heavy enough objection to overcome – patients and providers must also trust the technology. Without trust and accountability in the system, healthcare AI will be unable to reach its full potential.
Many of the ethical concerns stem from a question of responsibility, especially when AI is applied to patient care. How does the FDA approve a constantly changing technology? Because many AI applications continuously improve by the data inputs they receive, the technology evolves each time it is used. This process is completely different from technologies of the past that the FDA can approve and it can be difficult for patients and providers to trust a machine learning algorithm without understanding its reasoning. Or, when something goes wrong, who is to blame – the provider who followed the algorithm’s recommendation or the AI provider? Without clear guidance, these concerns could be difficult to overcome.
A second area of ethical concern involves the data used to train the AI and data security. The more data available, the more accurate an algorithm will be and the deeper insights that can be generated. However, the data needs to be appropriately de-identified to maintain privacy. And any biases present in datasets could be amplified in the outcomes. Data security is a huge concern in healthcare and without the proper governance, artificial intelligence could pose another layer to the problem. Not only do you need the data to be secure, but you also need the AI solutions themselves to be secure and built for the changing regulations of healthcare.
Besides the ethical concerns of the technology, there is also the ethical question of how this will affect work and employees. With headlines like, “Will a Robot take my Job” or “The Robots are Coming,” the fear caused by AI is real. Predictions for how many jobs AI can actually automate vary, but there is no doubt that the future of the workplace will be changed by artificial intelligence.
These ethical concerns are deep, central problems that will affect the entire fabric of our future society and future ways of care. At Olive, we believe that the answer to these problems, at least today, is by focusing on using AI and automation to augment our existing human workforce, improving the efficiency of care, while reducing costs and putting people back in touch with patients.
Scaling humans with artificial intelligence
Across industries, AI has proven that it can be a revolutionary tool in terms of optimizing burdensome, robotic processes currently done by humans. When applied to the numerous administrative processes that happen at every step of the healthcare journey, AI has the potential to reduce the cost of care at a massive scale.
“That’s why we created Olive – to carve a trillion dollars out of the cost of healthcare but connecting a very disconnected healthcare system. We think the best way to achieve that ethically is by scaling humans with AI. We’re able to accomplish so much more as a humankind with the assistance of AI in terms of providing better, more affordable healthcare to all.” – Sean Lane, CEO of Olive.
At Olive, we’ve already seen the workforce landscape fundamentally changing, because AI and automation are being used to supplement the work that our human employees don’t have time to get to. For the healthcare companies we’ve partnered with to deploy AI, we’ve already seen the landscape really start to change and human jobs begin shifting, as well. As their AI workforce starts to take over all of the robotic administrative work, it’s giving their humans the chance to handle tasks that require more of a human touch – like higher value claims and Quality Assurance, to name a few.
An ongoing conversation about the ethical implementation of AI stems from the fear and trepidation about whether or not AI will take human jobs. But that’s not what AI should be doing at all – AI is automating the most robotic tasks bogging down our most inundated industries, so humans can focus on more meaningful, human-centric initiatives such as patient care. For example, in healthcare today, workers spend more time in front of screens than they do in front of patients, a problem that automation can effectively solve.
“In the future, entire companies will be created with the intention of being staffed by an AI workforce. It will allow lots of new technology to emerge because the creation of new services and technology companies will be more accessible to more people, increasing entrepreneurship and expediting innovation. And that means more than just new job opportunities and new tech companies, but possibly entirely new industries themselves.” – Lane
Olive’s artificial intelligence ethics
At Olive, we believe in the transformative power of AI and want everyone to experience its benefits, so we work hard to ensure it’s used responsibly. That’s why these questions and concerns drive everything we do and shape the world we’re dedicated to building with artificial intelligence. It’s also why we made Olive specifically for healthcare. Unlike other AI solutions on the market, Olive uses her healthcare-specific skills to address common bottlenecks – most importantly, she does it with unrivaled security measures built for healthcare, working seamlessly with common industry processes and technology.
We integrate our product development, sales and customer success teams in our considerations, allowing them to help drive the ethical use of artificial intelligence. As the implementation of AI reaches critical mass, ethics will remain central to the conversation of how we “shift human work” from robot-friendly tasks to ones that require a human touch and human mind to improve the overall quality of human life.