RCGP Report on AI

The Clinical Innovation and Research Centre (CIRC) at the RCGP works with GPs and practice staff, supporting them to deliver a better quality and level of care to their patients through a wide portfolio of projects. Find out more at https://www.rcgp.org.uk/clinical-and-research.aspx.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a hotly discussed topic for several years and has more recently been discussed in healthcare. There are articles on the potential impact for AI to completely change current approaches and replace people, causing widespread job loses.

In June 2017 the House of Lords appointed a committee to “consider the economic, ethical and social implications of advances in artificial intelligence”. The findings of the Committee were published in a report in April 2018. It was reported that AI has potential to replace jobs but, importantly, enhance many jobs and create new ones. At the end of 2017, the government also released the industry strategy white paper which presented AI and Data Economy as one of the four Grand Challenges facing the UK. In early 2018, the Wellcome Trust commissioned a report on AI focusing on healthcare highlighting many of the challenges facing AI.

The digital doctor powered by AI is a common feature of articles on AI and healthcare. However, there are still substantial technical developments needed before a digital doctor becomes possible. Possibly the biggest technical challenge is that AI is very good at doing a very specific task but struggles as tasks become broader.

But people, unlike machines, are good at empathy and relationships.

AI is already being used to support healthcare delivery, machines, unlike people, have a great capability for analysing vast amounts of data and looking for patterns. These can be used to provide answers to very specific queries. But people, unlike machines, are good at empathy and relationships. This approach where healthcare professionals use AI powered tools is still in its infancy but has potential to impact care provision. What is unclear is the best way for AI and healthcare professionals to work together to improve the deliver of healthcare.

The RCGP has released a report on artificial intelligence and primary care. The report aims to demystify what artificial intelligence is and the limitations and questions surrounding the use of AI in healthcare. It outlines the role of a professional body in supporting AI while safeguarding patients and supporting healthcare professionals to ensure the best possible care is provided.

The first in a series of reports can be found at the RCGP’s new page, Evolving General Practice.

For more information on our reports, please contact the Innovation Team at circ@rcgp.co.uk.

 

Featured image by Christopher Burns on Unsplash