Dr. Robot at Your Service: Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare
by Isabelle P. Mercure, Eric Lavallée, Laurent Bellemare-Proulx
Published: June, 2018
Submission: July, 2018
Artificial intelligence technologies are extremely promising in healthcare.1 By examining, cross-referencing and comparing a phenomenal amount of data.2 AI lets researchers work more quickly at a lower cost3 and facilitates doctors’ decision-making with regard to diagnosis, treatment and choice of prescription.
Working to protect innovators, their clients and the public
No matter what form AI takes when it is implemented into the healthcare field in Quebec, as with any innovation, we must adapt and work to protect the public, innovators and their clients.
What is an innovator? An innovator is a developer, provider or distributor who is involved in the development and marketing of products that use artificial intelligence.
1 - Innovator protection
As the future of healthcare lies in an increased integration of AI, innovators must be properly supported and protected, which means that they must be equipped with all of the appropriate tools for protecting their rights, especially intellectual property rights.
In addition, if the proposed technological solution implies that the data collected, transmitted or analyzed is stored and pooled or that it is shared with other stakeholders, innovators must ensure in particular that the patients’ personal information is protected in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations5 and that this data is not used for commercial purposes. If not, an innovator could be the target of a claim by professional organizations or by patient groups and, when certification is required, that certification could be withdrawn by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux [health and human services ministry].
To learn more about innovator protection, we invite you to read the following article: Artificial intelligence: contractual obligations beyond the buzzwords.
2 - Protection of clients (buyers of artificial intelligence solutions)
Artificial intelligence operations have several intrinsic limits, including the prioritization of quantity over quality of the data collected; systematic errors that are reproduced or amplified;6 and even human error in the entry of the data relied on by professionals and researchers.
Accordingly, innovators must ensure that they properly warn their clients of the limits and risks tied to the use of their products in order to protect themselves against potential claims.
The innovator will also be required to enter into a contract with the client that is clear and detailed with regard to the use, access and sharing of data collected in electronic medical records (EMR).
3 - Protection of the public (Collège des médecins du Québec [“Quebec college of physicians”] regulation)
All products using AI technology must allow doctors to respect their obligations with regard to creating and maintaining EMR. These obligations are included in Section 9 of the Collège des médecins draft regulation, which is expected to come into force in the near future and will make the use of EMR mandatory.
The Collège also intends to specify in this regulation that collected data may not be used [TRANSLATION] “for any purpose other than to monitor and treat patients.”8 The Inquiries Division of the Collège has also recently cautioned its members that the technological tools that they use [TRANSLATION] “must be used exclusively within the context of their duties, meaning the administration of care.”9
The current position of the Collège des médecins and the Ministère de la Santé is that the marketing of data contained in EMR is prohibited even if the data is anonymous. Furthermore, according to Dr. Yves Robert, Secretary of the Collège, even if the shared data is anonymous, it may not be used either to promote a product, such as a less expensive medication in the case of an insurance company, or to influence a doctor’s choice when making a decision. 10
The Inquiries Division has also reminded members of their ethical obligation to “disregard any intervention by a third party which could influence the performance of their professional duties to the detriment of their patient, a group of individuals or a population.11”
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