As year 2019 comes to a close, perhaps it’s time for us to take a look back at some of the significant moments of AIMed.

The many new ventures and collaborations

2019 is probably the year for many new ventures and collaborations. In February, UK’s National Health Service (NHS) announced the launch of a new unit, NHSx, as it set out to digitally transform the 70-year-old public health system. In August, a new national artificial intelligence (AI) laboratory is to be set up with a £250 million boost as part of an ongoing plan to make UK the world leader in new technologies.

Among the tech giants, Microsoft partners with Nuance Communications, a conversational AI company to create an “exam room of the future” powered by new technologies to minimize physician burnouts in October. Google acquired Fitbit, pioneer of fitness tracker for $2.1 billion and revealed a new clinical dashboard in November. Apple embarks on three new observational health studies concerning women’s health; heart and movement, and hearing while the speculation it may release its first augmented reality (AR) headset in 2022 and AR glasses by 2023 run high.

At the beginning of December, Novartis, the global pharmaceutical and healthcare company based in Switzerland, announced a multi-year strategic collaboration with Amazon Web Services, as part of its continuous effort to transform its manufacturing, supply chain and delivery operations of drugs. As for AIMed, it partners with Best Case Scenario (BCS), a leading event management based in New South Wales, to launch AIMed Australia in November. 2019 is also the year in which AIMed staged sub-specialty conferences in Cardiology; Radiology; Surgery and Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Ongoing debates on ethics, privacy and AI deployment

As the AIMed scene gets more vibrant, there were also many heated debates around ethics, privacy and how to better integrate AI into clinical practice. In April, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced steps to consider a new regulatory framework targeting at AI driven medical devices, particularly algorithms that can be fed and re-train with new data over time. In fact, FDA never stops to update its criteria, as seen in the introduction of the pre-cert pilot program and 510(k) premarket notification.

Nevertheless, finding a common ground nationally and globally remains a challenge as medical institutions, tech companies, startups and even patients and social enterprises are developing respective solutions. This also makes fellow clinicians question whether innovators had ever thought of ways to deploy their solutions in the clinical setting. In the realm of radiology alone, AIMed had conducted two separate webinars to address the gap between ideas and reality.

New survey showed that medical professionals do believe in the potential of AI but they are not confident in the way solution providers handle patients’ data. NHS’ new partnership with virtual assistant, Alexa was subjected to question as Amazon does keep a record of all conversations unless someone deliberately deletes them, even though the company said they do not share information with third parties and do not profile users based on their health concerns. Likewise, the recent Project Nightingale incident, in which millions of identifiable patient records were leaked in the US via Google cloud, also daunted many.

Not just the professionals

The call for diversity has never been higher. Some believe as AI uses data from fellow medical institutions and patients, it should be democratized and benefit these entities. Others believe different voices will move the industry forward. AIMed had vastly discussed it before: From the possibility of artificial intelligence (AI) decentralizing medicine; transition of care from hospital to individual level, to how social media in changing the nature of clinical trials. All these showed that patients had transformed from passive recipients of care to consumers or even active influencers of care. We believe in the coming year, this will be more prominent.

Author Bio

Hazel Tang A science writer with data background and an interest in the current affair, culture, and arts; a no-med from an (almost) all-med family. Follow on Twitter.