European Commission Report on AI Uptake in Healthcare

The European Commission publishes a report to monitor the development, uptake and impact of Artificial Intelligence for healthcare.

The European Commission (EC) has encouraged the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in several of its policy documents. The use of AI in healthcare has indeed been subject to great interest not only in the European Union but also in other countries such as Japan, the US, China and India for example.

  • Current situation: Europe's population is ageing, and, in addition to this, we are facing a shortage of healthcare professionals. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has made us realise that the use of AI in healthcare is extremely important. According to the EC report, Europe has excellent health data and a strong research base, meaning that it already has the prerequisites to be able to develop AI applications that will be beneficial to society. However, Europe is still having difficulties in translating research and innovation into industrial applications and in venture capital funding able to support innovative companies to establish themselves and scale up once this process has been successful.

  • Opportunities and risks: The EC report suggests that AI can offer many opportunities. A clear opportunity and advantage of AI is the fact that it can make the healthcare process faster and diagnoses easier. However, the Commission also raises some concerns related to ethical and societal issues such as the risk of bioterrorism which can also emerge with an increase in AI technology and health data use.

  • Recommendations: Currently Europe needs venture capital funding for the potential new AI technologies and products. AI is already used in the healthcare industry, nevertheless, in the long term, better training in order to improve the skills of healthcare practitioners will be needed. The EC therefore suggests that data science could become part of their education. This will enable the professionals to be active in creating and implementing new AI solutions which are much needed in the healthcare industry.

The following figure from the EC report shows the AI activities by health topic in the EU, China and the US.