- While the general public is more at ease with artificial intelligence (AI) being used in healthcare than in other industries, many consumers still worry about lack of human interaction and data security, according to a survey from SAS.
When presented with a variety of real-world scenarios, a large proportion of the 500 participants was more comfortable with AI in medical settings than in banking or retail domains.
Sixty percent of survey respondents said that they would be comfortable with their doctors using AI to analyze their medical data to inform treatment decisions.
Sixty-one percent of participants also reported that they would allow their providers to use data from their wearable devices to assess their lifestyle and make suggestions about what they should change.
Individuals of all ages expressed comfort with AI in the operating room: more than half of consumers older than 40 are willing to experience AI-assisted surgery, while 40 percent of consumers younger than 40 said the same.
These results reflect the understanding that AI has the potential to help providers make more informed clinical decisions and improve patient outcomes.
"Consumers feel positively about AI when they believe it's being used for good," said David Tareen, Marketing Manager for AI at SAS.
Despite the positive perceptions of AI, consumers still have reservations about the cutting-edge technology. Respondents cited lack of human interaction as their top reason for not feeling comfortable with AI.
Data security was also a pervasive concern. Only 35 percent of respondents said they were confident that their data being used for AI is stored securely.
Sixty-nine percent of consumers over 40 are concerned that their data is not securely stored, while 58 percent of consumers younger than 40 are worried about the same.
Consumers may feel hesitant about AI and its role in healthcare and other industries because they don’t have a substantial amount of knowledge on the subject. In fact, the survey found that less than half of consumers said that they could explain the concept of AI to a friend or colleague.
"Overall, a lack of understanding about what AI is and can do is a significant factor for those who fear it," Tareen said.
Machine learning and other AI capabilities have already shown promise in improving imaging analytics, extracting information from unstructured patient data, and helping providers make clinical decisions. However, the healthcare industry still has a long way to go before AI fully lives up to the hype it has generated.
Instead of believing that AI will enter the healthcare industry and replace providers completely, consumers should think of AI as a tool that will supplement the work of healthcare professionals. It can help reduce documentation burdens and accelerate precision medicine development, but AI cannot take over for human clinicians yet.
The results of the SAS survey indicate that most consumers are growing more comfortable with the thought of AI in healthcare and increasingly understand AI’s many benefits. This may make it easier for health IT developers and healthcare providers to integrate these tools into the everyday workflows that support patient care.