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AI.Care 2023: Roadmap for a national policy agenda for AI in healthcare

22 November 2023
| 4 comments
By Kate McDonald
AAAiH founder Enrico Coiera launches the national AI in healthcare roadmap. Image courtesy Gil Carter.

The Australian Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare (AAAiH) has released a roadmap for AI in healthcare that it says delivers a “critically needed, coordinated national approach” to developing a policy agenda over the next two to five years.

Major recommendations include the establishment of a National AI in Healthcare Council, the development of a shared code of conduct for the safe, responsible and effective use of AI by health professionals as well as profession-specific codes of practice, and the development of a National AI Capability Centre in Healthcare (NAICCH) to assist industry to bring products to market.

The roadmap says a National AI in Healthcare Council would help ensure that AI in healthcare is safe, effective and does not harm patients, and that it needs to be developed and deployed within a robust risk-based safety framework.

It calls for healthcare organisations using AI to demonstrate that they meet minimum AI safety and quality practice standards for accreditation.

It also says there is an urgent need to communicate the need for caution in the clinical use of generative AI when it is currently untested or unregulated for clinical settings, including the preparation of clinical documentation.

Enrico Coiera, founder of the Australian Alliance for AI in Healthcare (AAAiH) which led the development of the roadmap, said Australia needs to urgently prioritise the governance of AI in healthcare in order to safeguard patients and support the digital health sector.

The establishment of a National AI in Healthcare Council to coordinate and harmonise the responsibilities and activities of existing entities responsible for oversight of AI safety, effectiveness and ethical and security risks is a key recommendation, Professor Coiera said.

“While Australia has a number of regulatory and government agencies responsible for some aspects of AI, a coordinated system wide approach is the only way to ensure protection of patients, optimisation of our health workforce and the growth of a healthcare specific AI industry,” he said.

“The UK and USA have already invested billions in their healthcare AI sectors and we must use the next two years to get back in the game.”

Other recommendations include:

  • adoption of a unified approach to AI safety, quality and ethics so that healthcare AI does not harm patients
  • establishment of strategies to improve AI literacy in health for consumers and the clinical workforce
  • support of the local healthcare AI industry to grow, successfully navigating between investment in innovation and the requirements for compliance and regulation
  • building on the research and development sector to generate the evidence, technologies and products that will underpin AI-driven healthcare and enable Australia to retain world-class sovereign capability.

The roadmap was released at the AI.Care conference in Melbourne today, hosted by the Australasian Institute of Digital Health

AAAiH has been supported in development of the National Policy Roadmap for AI in Healthcare by Macquarie University, the CSIRO Australian eHealth Research Centre, RMIT University, the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre, and the Australasian Institute of Digital Health.

A public webinar on the roadmap will be held on November 29.

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4 comments on “AI.Care 2023: Roadmap for a national policy agenda for AI in healthcare”

  1. These recommendations are the result of bringing together a broad group from across all parts of the health care sector including industry. This whole of sector support will be key to successful implementation.

    • Name - Annette Schmiede
  2. Great document, thank you! But why limit such a document to only AI-based services? I’ve seen many software products, large and small, used in clinical and diagnostic settings over the decades – either they are built on poor foundations in terms of data structure, interoperability and patient identity management, or they are poorly implemented, or both. I would love to see a similar roadmap for quality assurance of all digital health software products, with workforce guidance for procurement and digital information management practices that can meet primary and secondary data requirements in Australia. Maybe then we would see less failure in health IT projects.

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