A new survey by Pew Research Center has found that most Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of their doctors using artificial intelligence to help manage their health. The survey showed that 60% of Americans would feel uncomfortable with a healthcare provider who relied on AI to diagnose their disease or recommend a treatment. Furthermore, 57% of the respondents believe that using AI would make their relationship with their provider worse. However, respondents acknowledged the potential of AI to reduce medical mistakes and eliminate racial bias among doctors. Only 38% felt that using AI to diagnose disease or recommend treatment would lead to better health outcomes, while 33% said it would lead to worse outcomes.
The Pew survey also found that 79% of respondents would not want AI involved in their mental health care. In terms of surgery, 6 in 10 Americans said they would not want AI-driven robots to perform parts of their surgery. Respondents also expressed concern over the speed of the adoption of AI in health and medicine.
Some Americans, however, think AI may be able to build more equity into the health care system. Most providers have some form of implicit bias, which affects their decision-making. Among the survey participants who understand that this kind of bias exists, the predominant view was that AI could help when it came to diagnosing a disease or recommending treatments, making those decisions more data-driven. The Pew survey also found that 4 in 10 Americans think AI could help providers make fewer mistakes. Medical errors cost about $20 billion a year and result in about 100,000 deaths each year.
The survey results indicated that Americans prefer healthcare providers to move with caution and carefully consider the consequences of AI adoption. Respondents were more comfortable with using AI to detect skin cancer, with 65% of the respondents believing that it could improve the accuracy of a diagnosis. Dermatologists are already exploring the use of AI technology in skin cancer diagnosis, with some limited success.
Radiologists have used AI to analyze X-rays and CT scans to look for cancer and improve diagnostic capacity. About 30% of radiologists use AI as a part of their practice, and that number is growing, a survey found – but more than 90% in that survey said they wouldn’t trust these tools for autonomous use. The use of AI in healthcare has been increasing for some time, but the Pew survey shows that the public’s awareness of AI is still developing. Pew’s associate director of research, Alec Tyson, said that the public isn’t deeply familiar with all of these technologies, and so when considering their use in a personal context, such as health, people may not be willing to trust the technology yet.
AI is being used to improve the accuracy and speed of medical diagnoses. For instance, AI-assisted robotic surgeries can help surgeons perform minimally invasive procedures with greater precision, reducing the risk of complications and improving patient outcomes. Methods are being used to predict outcomes from medical signal data, such as electroencephalograms (EEG), electrocardiograms, and audio data. AI algorithms can analyze EEG signals to predict the onset of seizures, which can help doctors provide timely interventions and improve patient outcomes. AI is also being used to accelerate drug discovery and development, enabling pharmaceutical companies to research lifesaving medicines in a fraction of the time and cost it traditionally takes.