The Australian Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare (AAAiH) has launched a Roadmap for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare for Australia. The AAAiH is committed to seeing Australia’s healthcare system stay at the very cutting edge globally.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us all, business as usual in the 21st Century is business as change. We must craft a healthcare system that can flex and adapt to deal with multiple crises, whether they are pandemic, economic or climate change” said Professor Enrico Coiera, who leads the AAAiH.

“AI offers us profound new opportunities to improve clinical diagnosis, treatment and workflows. From the research bench to clinical bedside and into the hands of patients, AI promises to make Australian healthcare a learning system that is more nimble, adaptive, personalised, safe and effective.”

While Australia is well positioned to be a global leader in the real-world application of AI, the country has yet to develop clear plans for how that might happen, let alone invest at anywhere near the scale of other nations. All the necessary elements for a world-class translational capacity are in place: a high performing health system and substantial digital infrastructure at State and Federal levels. Australia has particular strengths in computer and data science, bioscience and implementation science. At the moment however, Australia’s healthcare system is unprepared to manage the opportunities and risks of an AI enabled world.

The AAAiH has consulted widely across the health system, industry, consumers and government to understand national priorities, and craft a Roadmap for AI in Healthcare for Australia. In preparing the Roadmap, the AAAiH analysed the responses of 152 stakeholder organisations and key individuals who responded to their 2021 survey exploring priorities for progressing the adoption of AI across the nation.

The Roadmap contains 24 recommendations across eight priority areas, covering critical issues such as safety quality and ethics, industry development and consumer needs.

The highest community priority identified was for healthcare AI to be safe for patients and developed and used ethically. AI privacy and data security was a major concern. Respondents also identified the need for genuine whole-of-nation leadership in the healthcare AI space as well as robust governance of the sector. Gaps in workforce capability to build and use healthcare AI were clearly identified as was the need for consumers to be fully engaged in shaping the healthcare AI agenda. Respondents also rated the gaps in capability to adopt AI into practice and the need to enhance local industry capability as issues needing clear attention.

Together these recommendations set a target for a fully funded national plan by 2025 that will create an AI-enabled Australian healthcare system capable of delivering personalised healthcare, safely and ethically. The plan also envisages a vibrant AI industry sector that creates jobs and exports to the world, working side by side with an AI-aware workforce and AI-savvy consumers.

Professor Enrico Coeira’s Centre for Health Informatics at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation is a finalist in the AI Champions Awards, the winners of which will be announced at the AIMed Global Summit on January 19, 2022. See the other nominees and book your place to join them here.