Ethical Guidelines for AI in Healthcare and Biomedical Research

Ethical Guidelines for AI in Healthcare and Biomedical Research

News: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has released Ethical Guidelines for AI in Healthcare and Biomedical Research to guide the effective, safe development/deployment/adoption of AI-based technologies.

 Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made inroads into every sector and healthcare is no exception.
 Diagnosis and screening, therapeutics, preventive treatments, clinical decision-making, public health surveillance, etc., are among the recognised applications of AI in healthcare. Since AI cannot be held accountable for the decisions it makes, an ethically sound policy framework is essential to guide AI technology development.

Key Highlights of Guidelines:
 It outlined 10 key patient-centric ethical principles for AI application in the health sector for all stakeholders involved.
 These are accountability and liability, autonomy, data privacy, collaboration, risk minimization and safety, accessibility and equity, optimization of data quality, non-discrimination and fairness, validity and trustworthiness.
 The ethical review process came under the domain of the ethics committee which assesses a host of factors including data source, quality, safety, anonymization, etc.

Importance of guidelines:
 The autonomy principle ensures human oversight of the functioning and performance of the AI system. It is also critical to attain informed consent from the patient on the physical, psychological and social risks involved.
 It aims to prevent unintended or deliberate misuse and cyber-attacks and mandates a benefit-risk assessment by an ethical committee.
 It underlines the importance of regular internal and external audits to ensure the optimum functioning of AI systems.
 It acknowledges the widespread availability of appropriate infrastructure and thus aims to bridge the digital divide.

Way Forward
 Standard practices to make the AI-based solutions technically sound, ethically justified and applicable to a large number of individuals with equity and fairness.
 All the stakeholders should adhere to these guiding principles to make the technology more useful and acceptable to the users and beneficiaries of the technology.

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