Generative AI in Healthcare, Is It Safe?

There is a one-in-a-million chance of being harmed while traveling by plane.

There is a one in three hundred chance of being harmed in the healthcare system.

Checking in with your doctor could lead to one of the most common mistakes - medication errors - impacting at least 1.5 million people yearly. Medication errors are defined as preventable events in which inappropriate medication use or patient harm occurs while under professional care.

Of course, that’s just the start. Organizations are predicting a shortage of 15 million healthcare workers worldwide by 2030, up to 13 million in nursing.

Maybe that’s why some are looking to generative AI as a solution.

What is generative AI?

Who better to answer what generative AI is than the source? According to ChapGPT, generative AI is defined as:

Generative AI refers to a subset of artificial intelligence (AI) that focuses on generating new, original content rather than simply analyzing or classifying existing data. It involves using machine learning algorithms to create or produce new data that is similar to or inspired by a given dataset.

Generative AI has applications in various fields, including art, entertainment, design, and research. It can be used to create realistic images and animations, generate new music compositions, assist in content creation, enhance data augmentation techniques, and even aid in drug discovery or scientific simulations.

However, it's important to note that generative AI can also have ethical considerations, such as the potential for generating deepfake content or spreading misinformation. Responsible and ethical use of generative AI involves understanding its capabilities, potential risks, and ensuring appropriate safeguards are in place to mitigate any negative consequences.

While AI can do a lot of good, It’s important to remember that it can steer us off course equally fast. Especially in healthcare.

Can generative AI take the place of a human?

Earlier this year, AI made headlines when ChatGPT passed the US Medical Licensing Exam.

That’s what AI is good at. It’s heavily weighted on consuming information and regurgitating it back. Where it gets lost is in thinking outside of the box.

AI absorbs an exorbitant amount of content, processes it, and provides answers. It learns. It makes logical guesses. By its own accord, answers may be right or wrong, depending on the circumstances.

Can you rely on AI? Yes … and no.

If you’re writing a fiction story, AI results might be entertaining. If you’re creating blog posts, AI is acceptable. It can analyze data like nobody’s business. But we might want to think twice when it’s a life-or-death situation. Security in these situations is more imperative than ever.

Whether you trust AI or are still leery, it’s here to stay. Securely leveraging generative AI can be a part of your future plans by:

Creating a trusted environment - a lot can go wrong by using open-source AI. Employees can easily release HIPAA-related information into a non-secure environment or trust information inappropriate to your organization. Finding trusted resources that can help you get the job done may require more research. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Partner with organizations that can help you improve efficiencies and become more productive in the process.

Starting a training program - employees will get curious about AI and investigate many of the tools themselves. If you don’t train them on acceptable behavior, you may find yourself training based on consequences. A better approach is to jump in early to teach what is possible, followed by what is acceptable within their positions.

Keep humans in the loop - it’s easy to “trust” when AI gives you more time in your already busy day. That’s when failure is most likely to occur. Right now, we’re in an emerging period figuring out the good and bad of AI. Use it to benefit your organization and learn what it can do. But always have follow-up guidelines for checking the results and ensuring results make sense. It’s the best way to stay prepared as we move forward with this technology.

Generative AI is presenting a milestone in AI development. The future is endless with possibilities. But the risks and threats are just as real. It’s up to us to ensure we minimize them, and ensure a brighter future.

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