Following a series of ‘Healthcare Workforce and Organisational Transformation with AI’roundtables, EIT Health’s Think Tank explores the future role of AI and digital solutions in EU health systems.

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By 2050, about a quarter of people in the EU will be over the age of 65 implying the need to tend to more complex healthcare needs. At the same time, WHO predicts a healthcare workforce shortage of about 10 million professionals by 2030. This discrepancy can be partially addressed by implementing new AI-driven technologies that would help healthcare workers free up time needed to provide care.


The potential of this approach has been the focus of EIT HealthThink Tank that has recently released its ‘Healthcare Workforce and Organisational Transformation with AI – Enacting Change’ report summarising a series of roundtables held across Europe in 2020.


The report identifies a range of focus areas that need to be addressed at an EU and national levels in order to maximise the potential of AI and technology in healthcare. These are underpinned by the urgent need for a technological revolution as well as to attract, train and retain healthcare professionals to prevent EU health systems from struggling over the next decade.


While AI is believed to have huge potential and attracts much interest and investment, the foundations for its deployment are still being evaluated, including its impact on patients, practitioners and health systems, and ethical implications inherent to its use.


The roundtable participants discussed the practical applicability of AI at a national level in the EU and proposed actionable recommendations for each of the following domains:

  • Clinical leadership. Empowered with the knowledge of AI and in collaboration with various stakeholders, leaders may advocate the technology to their wider teams and facilitate the deployment of AI solutions.
  • Rethinking education, skills and investment in new roles and talent. Those involved in AI implementation on all levels of healthcare should have access to relevant education. Also, AI concepts should be included in the training and ongoing education components of all healthcare-related courses.
  • Regulation and policymaking. To ensure smooth integration of AI technologies, there is a need for the EU-wide guidance on common standards, particularly regarding the Medical Devices Regulation that is about to enter into force in Europe but also from an ethical point of view.
  • Funding and reimbursement. There should be a good understanding of AI by investors supported by appropriate reimbursement policies and financial incentives for innovation.
  • Strengthening data quality, governance, security and interoperability. Areas such as data management, infrastructure, maintenance, storage, access, anonymisation, governance, security and interoperability of systems and data require EU guidance on common standards as well as intensive collaboration between stakeholders.
  • Liability and managing risk. The implementation of AI technologies is still surrounded by many issues such as those of who holds the responsibility in the decision-making process, and how to address the various challenges involving liability and risk.

The report provides a broad array of case studies and best practices for each domain, and outlines a number of recommendations at both EU and member state levels. For example, among the actions needed at an EU level are creation of a robust data infrastructure for Europe, and provision of guidance on data management, governance, regulation and risk assessment of AI solutions. For individual member states it is recommended to focus on increasing interdisciplinary collaboration, leveraging existing networks and infrastructures, and developing value-based financial models.

The report concludes that the pandemic has created the momentum towards the use of digital tools including those driven by AI, and stresses that this momentum should be harnessed to ensure benefits to healthcare systems now and in the future.

You can read the full report here.

Source and image credit: EIT Health

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Artificial Intelligence, healthcare workforce, Digitalising healthcare, EIT Health, Education & Training Enacting Organisational Change with AI: New EIT Health Report