Editorial – Barriers to adopting AI in everyday healthcare

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionise healthcare systems in Europe through driving efficiencies in delivery. But healthcare professionals (HCPs) are often lacking the support, training and skills they need to fully embrace AI on the frontline.

EIT Health’s Think Tank 2020 Round Table Series set out to explore the practical steps healthcare stakeholders must take to empower and equip the workforce to adopt and use AI, as identified in the EIT Health and McKinsey report, ‘Transforming healthcare with AI’.

In 2020, it is no longer acceptable that nursing students devote more time to learn how to make a bed than to use digital hospital systems.

Zineb Nouns, clinician and medical education specialist

More than one in three HCPs agree, citing education and skills as the biggest barrier to AI.1

“The educational challenge starts from a change of mindset, culture, skills and everyday behaviour, to ultimately the establishment of entirely new workflows and tasks,” Nouns adds.

Data security is another key concern because machine-learning technology like AI relies on high-quality patient information.

Farzana Rahman, AI strategy and policy expert, and CEO of Hexarad, a telereporting platform for radiologists, says:

[We need] enough data to train algorithms while also preserving public trust, using regulation to ensure citizens feel protected, without stifling innovation.

When we get it right, AI systems will carry out administrative tasks, giving HCPs more time with patients, improving the efficiency of care delivery while also saving costs.

Charlotte Stix, a PhD researcher on AI governance and ethics, was excited at the prospect of bringing multiple stakeholders together at these Round Tables, believing “it could deliver a step change in AI [adoption]”.

For EU healthcare systems burdened by chronic diseases and an ageing population, AI is a solution that’s well within our reach, we just need to pave the way.

Headshots of F Rahman, Z Nouns and C Stix

Farzana Rahman, Zineb Nouns and Charlotte Stix co-chaired this year’s Round Table Series.

1 EIT Health poll, 2,009 responses