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Need for patient education on AI in healthcare to build trust revealed in new survey

Almost two thirds of patients are comfortable with using healthcare settings that use artificial intelligence (AI), but only if they are familiar with the technology, according to a new survey from GlobalData.

The results revealed that 60% of patients who were familiar with AI were either very or quite comfortable with attending an AI-enabled healthcare setting. When it came to people who weren’t familiar with the technology, this level of comfort fell to just 7% of patients.

A lack of in-person interaction was the top patient concern associated with physicians using AI in clinical practice, and most patients felt more comfortable with physicians using it to automate administrative tasks compared to directing patient care.

Faster healthcare delivery and mitigation of healthcare staff shortages were identified as the main benefits associated with AI use in clinical practice.

The survey data also reveals that those aged 18-55 years were more likely to be familiar with AI than those aged 56 years and over, with more than 50% of the younger group rating their knowledge as moderately or very familiar.

Commenting on the important and evolving use of AI to detect image-based diseases such as cancer, Urte Jakimaviciute, senior director of market research at GlobalData, said: ‘Together with the development of a robust regulatory framework, it is imperative to prioritise patient education regarding the technology.

‘This education should aim to enhance comprehension of AI’s utilisation, its potential advantages, and associated adoption risks, ultimately fostering increased trust in AI. Enhanced knowledge empowers individuals to make informed decisions and mitigate biases linked to this technology.’

Similar issues around trust have been identified in previous studies. For example, a 2021 study looking at patient apprehensions about the use of AI in healthcare, published in the journal NPJ Digital Medicine, identified concerns relating to its safety, threats to patient choice, potential increases in healthcare costs, data-source bias and data security.

These authors also concluded that ‘patient acceptance of AI is contingent on mitigating these possible harms’.

The new GlobalData survey, Thematic Intelligence: AI in Clinical Practice – Patient Perspective 2023, saw 574 patient respondents from the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Japan, Brazil, Canada, India and Mexico.

The patients were diagnosed with conditions such as heart diseases, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, chronic respiratory conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease. They were surveyed between July and August 2023.