Improve public understanding of AI, or risk spread of fake news report warns

1 May 2019        

Category: Survival and support

The spread of misinformation risks undermining public confidence in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare, according to a new report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Heart and Circulatory Diseases.

The report warns that the NHS and relevant bodies need to do more to improve public understanding of the use of this innovative technology if its life saving potential is to be realised.

Research for the report revealed that an overwhelming 91% of people with heart and circulatory diseases said that they agree that the public should be well-informed about how AI is used in the healthcare sector. Of those who responded, 90% believed that it is the responsibility of the NHS to inform the public about current and potential uses of AI in healthcare. 

Improve public understanding

The British Heart Foundation (BHF), which provided secretariat support for the APPG, said that it is vital that as well as the NHS, other sectors including industry, charities and academia, must make the effort to improve public understanding about the developments of AI in healthcare to dispel any mistrust they feel towards it. Failing to engage with patients could allow misinformation to spread about a fast-developing area of healthcare, the charity said.

AI has the potential to help transform the prevention, treatment and care of heart and circulatory diseases.

For instance, BHF-funded research is working to find out if AI techniques can accurately predict the future prognosis of people with heart failure so that they can receive the best possible treatment. Researchers are using AI to interpret thousands of heart scans to build a 3D heart before ‘training’ the computer to recognise the earliest signs of heart failure.

Transform healthcare

There are more than seven million people living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK, and these conditions cause more than a quarter of all deaths in this country. In the future, using AI to its full potential could offer significant opportunities for the NHS to improve diagnosis and treatment as well as improve efficiency.

Reassuringly, 85% of people said that they support doctors using AI technologies in assisting in the diagnosis and treatment of heart and circulatory diseases. 

Henry Smith MP, chair of the APPG on heart and circulatory diseases, said:

“While we’re seeing real progress in the way heart and circulatory diseases are detected, treated and managed, there are more than 7 million people living with these conditions in the UK, with a quarter of all deaths caused by these diseases.

“It’s vital that we prevent and detect heart and circulatory diseases earlier. A key part of achieving this goal is to actively engage patients and the wider public as these technologies are driven and developed.

“AI has the potential to offer significant opportunities for the NHS to address the challenges of heart and circulatory diseases on a larger and faster scale than ever before.

“The NHS has an important role to play to help make sure patients have access to, and understanding of, information about the potential of this technology.”

Simon Gillespie, our Chief Executive, said:

“Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has the potential to transform the way we prevent, diagnose and treat heart and circulatory diseases. It is encouraging that the overwhelming majority of patients support using AI in the healthcare sector.

“It is now essential that the NHS, charities, and the wider healthcare and research communities help to build public trust and confidence in these innovative and potentially life saving technologies based on realistic assessments of their potential uses, benefits and risks. We need to ensure ‘fake news’ does not undermine public trust and confidence in this important developing area of research and clinical practice, otherwise people with heart and circulatory diseases might not benefit from AI’s full potential.”

Find out more about the APPG on heart and circulatory diseases