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Artificial intelligence in healthcare: Ethical and societal applications, risks and impacts

In recent years, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in medicine and healthcare has been praised for the great promise it offers, but has also been at the centre of lively controversies.

This EPRS (European Parliamentary Research Service) study provides an overview of how AI can benefit healthcare in the future, in particular increasing the efficiency of clinicians, improving medical diagnosis and treatment and optimising the allocation of human and technical resources.

The report identifies and clarifies the main clinical, social and ethical risks posed by AI in healthcare, namely:

  • potential errors and harm to patients;
  • the risk of biases and increased health inequalities;
  • lack of transparency and trust;
  • vulnerability to hacking and data privacy violations.

The study proposes mitigation measures and policy options to minimise these risks and maximise the benefits of medical AI, including multi-stakeholder engagement during the lifetime of AI production, increased transparency and traceability, in-depth clinical validation of AI tools and AI training and education for both clinicians and citizens.