EU Science Hub

Artificial Intelligence in Medicine and Healthcare: applications, availability and societal impact

Abstract: 

This report reviews and classifies the current and near-future applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Medicine and Healthcare according to their ethical and societal impact and the availability level of the various technological implementations. It provides conceptual foundations for well-informed policy-oriented work, research, and forward-looking activities that address the opportunities and challenges created in the field of AI in Medicine and Healthcare. This report is aimed for policy developers, but it also makes contributions that are of interest for researchers studying the impact and the future of AI on Healthcare, for scientific and technological stakeholders in this field and for the general public. This report is based on an analysis of the state of the art of research and technology, including software, personal monitoring devices, genetic tests and editing tools, personalized digital models, online platforms, augmented reality devices, and surgical and companion robotics. From this analysis, it is presented the concept of “extended personalized medicine”, and it is explored the public perception of medical AI systems, and how they show, simultaneously, extraordinary opportunities and drawbacks. In addition, this report addresses the transformation of the roles of doctors and patients in an age of ubiquitous information and identifies three main paradigms in AI-supported Medicine: “fake-based”, “patient-generated”, and “scientifically tailored” views. This Report presents: - An updated overview of the many aspects related to the social impact of Artificial Intelligence and its applications in Medicine and Health. A new ‘Technology Availability Scale’ is defined to evaluate and compare their current status. - Recent examples of the growing social concerns and debates in the general press, social media and other web-bases sources. - A ‘Visual Overview of AI and AI-mediated technologies in Medicine and Healthcare’, in which two figures show, respectively, a (newly proposed) classification according to their ethical and social impact, and the most relevant ethical and social aspects considered for such classification. Some key questions, controversies, significant, and conflicting issues are outlined for each aspect. - A ‘Structured Overview’, with a sorted list of technologies and their implementations, including perspectives, conflicting views and potential pitfalls, and a corresponding, extensive list of references. - A conclusive set of policy challenges, namely the need of informed citizens, key aspects (of AI and AI-mediated technologies in Medicine and Healthcare) to evaluate, and some recommendations towards a European leadership in this sector. - We finally relate our study with an update on the use of AI technologies to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 pandemic disease.