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American Telemedicine Association publishes principles of AI


Directives come as president announces executive order for artificial intelligence development.

ai artificial intelligence hands: © sdecoret - stock.adobe.com

© sdecoret - stock.adobe.com

Use of artificial intelligence (AI) in health care must include accountability, transparency and safety, according to the American Telemedicine Association.

ATA published its new “Artificial Intelligence Principles” Oct. 30, the same day President Joe Biden issued an executive order with new standards for safety, security, privacy and equity in AI.

“With today’s executive order issued by President Biden, to ensure the safe, secure, and trustworthy use of artificial intelligence, our timely release of the ATA’s AI Principles can help chart the way forward as the Administration works to create new standards for AI’s potentially game-changing capabilities,” ATA Senior Vice President for Public Policy Kyle Zebley said in a news release. “AI is already being used in telehealth and its future potential is endless, especially to harness the reams of data that our health care system produces, including data collected from virtual care technologies, to improve health care delivery.”

A tool for physicians

ATA supports use of AI in health care “as a meaningful tool for patients and providers.” Among ATA’s declaration of principles for responsible use:

  • Transparency and explainability: That means disclosures that allow patients, physicians and other providers, regulators and the public to understand how data is used.
  • Safeguards to mitigate against bias: AI should seek to eliminate, not worsen, health care disparities brought on by bias and institutional racism in traditional health care.
  • Clear regulatory guardrails: A “unified AI regulatory framework at the federal level is essential for consistent compliance” at the national level. States should align their rules with federal rules and other states.
  • Economic and workforce evolution: Current and upcoming health care professionals must be educated on the importance of AI integration and best practices. They must be actively involved in the AI adoption decision-making process.
  • Privacy: AI privacy policies should mirror privacy policies and practices across the health care system.

Privacy is part of it

Regarding privacy, ATA’s Data Work Group will create a plan “to keep personal health information secure and protected from misuses,” Zebley said. He noted the group is led by Aaron T. Maguregui, senior counsel of Foley & Lardner LLP, and its AI Committee is led by Mujadala (MJ) Abdul-Majid, strategy counsel at Google.

“The ATA supports policies, practices, and regulatory frameworks that enhance patient and provider trust, safety, and the efficacy of AI adoption as a tool in health care,” Zebley said. “The ATA and the ATA’s Data Work Group believe that utilizing AI in health care – including telehealth – can improve quality and service capability at every stage of the care journey. We stand ready to work with the administration, Congress and other key stakeholders to advance the safe, appropriate and responsible use of AI in health care.”

AI across the nation

The president directed that his administration should “advance the responsible use of AI in health care and the development of life-saving drugs.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will “establish a safety program to receive reports of – and act to remedy – harms or unsafe health care practices involving AI,” the president’s announcement said. It did not include details about a new HHS program or protocol.

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