Patient privacy and AI in healthcare

By Jane Andrew. Posted 07 February 2018
artificial intelligence (AI) can change patient privacy in healthcare

Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking a front seat in healthcare around the world, with the permission of patients and medical staff alike. From the medical office to the assisted living facility, AI has become a faster way for information to travel. AI technicians are consistently working toward creating the perfect AI system for the medical community.

However, in terms of confidentiality, the presence of the machines introduces a new layer of necessary follow-through on the part of medical professionals. Patients must be able to exchange as much information as possible without the fear of another party overhearing through the present AI.

There are terrific plans in place for the best possible confidentiality level in AI, as long as the medical community remains diligent.

The Impact of Missing Privacy for Patients

The failed agreement between a London-based company and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust last year reflects the biggest impact the medical community has on patient privacy.

When the patient information in that case was shared, it was not secure enough for the digital channels which it crossed. This means that the medical team was sending information before a technical team approved the channels as safe.

Further, patients were not informed that personal information would be shared. This court case represents the issue professionals are aiming to repair. One of the ways medical facilities are working toward a fix is to revamp patient charts.

Every patient is asked to sign a new confidentiality agreement that includes sharing information through AI technologies. Medical personnel are also being trained in the best way to use AI, as it is one of the best methods to move information quickly.

Most patients understand that digital information sharing via AI increases the speed of care. This understanding encourages patients to sign the new confidentiality agreements. These agreements are only the beginning toward a more secure AI sharing medical system.

What Must Be Done

Technology moves much faster than ever before. Reaching everyone for informed consent includes those who have selected alternative long-term care solutions such as nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Older people may not understand the need for new consent, so it is essential that all patients are updated and protected.

Further, according to the General Medical Council, as of 2017, the confidentiality agreement, under Common Law, does not include guidelines on privacy with AI use.

Legislation must work in conjunction with the speed of technology, creating guidelines paired with confidentiality stipulations to help protect patient information.

AI has become the best way to move information, so legislation must catch up. Further, technology security systems are in place to protect the information from hackers as it moves through cyberspace.

AI professionals are working constantly to make sure these systems remain secure. Patient consent for sharing information via AI is only the beginning for the British medical community. AI is a terrific way to improve British health care, one which is in a continuous state of improvement to keep all its information safe.

There is hope for AI and confidentiality within the British health system. However, legislation and medical professionals must come together to form a solid transmission system. Patient permission and careful transmission is only the beginning of building a medical care structure that works best for everyone involved.

Jane Andrew is a freelance journalist and writer