This year’s brainstorming sessions among the health community discussed how to solve the issues related to the adoption of artificial intelligence. The discussion participants found that the precondition for going forward with AI was systematic and structured data collection and changes in the funding of the entire field.
According to Connected Health cluster head Piret
Hirv, one of the requirements for the use of AI in
health care is cooperation between interest groups. “It is
quite clear that AI will be used more and more in future
medicine, but it will not start replacing doctors quite yet,”
Hirv explained. “Instead, AI is a rapid and convenient source
of answers, the basis for which will be our own health data.
Today, very many people turn to Google for their answers and
make their health decisions based on what they read there, but
in future, this probably won’t be necessary. The health
technology cluster will definitely be working to make AI useful
to patients and doctors in future.”
Speaking at the health community brainstorming sessions,
Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik said that he
tended to be optimistic on AI related issues but admitted the
topic required debate in society.
Kiik said AI was something that sparked curiosity and questions
but also came with concerns and prejudices. “Some see AI as a
success story and an opportunity for increasing effectiveness
and offering higher quality services, but others think it could
create inequality. It is undoubtedly important to explore and
think about this topic more broadly in terms of how we can move
forward together in developing the healthcare system.”
The minister added that a number of questions are still up in
the air, but he believes society is ready for AI debates. “How
far we will go as far as bestowing privileges and where does
the responsibility lie? What if a computer gives bad advice or
makes the wrong decision – who will be responsible? Where is
the boundary between AI’ s rights, responsibility and ethics?
Estonian society needs calm dialogue on these matters, be it in
healthcare, the legal system or the transport sector.”
One takeaway from the sessions was to first discuss the general
issues such as data protection or ethics and then move on to
sector-specific matters and tackle health-specific questions.
Regulation of AI, including the question of responsibility for
errors made by AI, should be universal and not sector-specific.
MP and former health minister Riina Sikkut asked
whether anyone should be accused – mistakes can be learned from
and perhaps we should think about compensating damage rather
than levelling accusations, she said.
Speakers confirmed that we are still far from replacing
doctors: AI is a technology and it comes down to the choice of
how to use it, to what extent it is used for decision making
and to what extent for decision support.
Peeter Ross, Professor at the Institute of Health
Technologies at Tallinn University of Technology and the
Director of the E-Medicine Centre, also works as a radiologist
at the East Tallinn Central Hospital and is a consultant on
e-health for the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. In his
presentation at the sessions, he pondered whether AI will
always work in conjunction with the healthcare professional or
whether it could replace the healthcare
“The question isn’t about whether AI will replace doctors or
not; the answer is no. The doctors who use methods supported by
AI will benefit,” said Ross.
The discussion participants found that the precondition for
going forward with AI was systematic and structured data
collection and changes in the funding of the entire field.
Brainstorming sessions in the health community – “How to use AI
in healthcare? Legal, ethical and technical issues in the
adoption of AI” took place in Laitse on 27 August.
The Connected Health cluster led by Tehnopol Science Park is
Estonia’s biggest healthcare tech community, uniting health
service providers, health tech companies and all other key
interest groups in the field. The cluster’s support enables
domestic cooperation projects and the export of health
technological solutions to other countries.
Photo: Madli Viigimaa
The cluster’s activities are co-financed by Enterprise
Source: Estonian HealthTech Cluster