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AAD’s augmented intelligence position statement provides look to the future


A blueprint for the future of augmented intelligence (AuI) in dermatology – including a definition of high-quality AuI, steps in the development of AuI models and integration into clinical settings, and postmarketing surveillance – is the focus of a newly published American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) position statement.

The statement describes AuI as “a concept that focuses on artificial intelligence’s (AI) assistive role,” emphasizing that AuI is “designed to enhance human intelligence and the physician/patient relationship,” not to replace that relationship. The statement, available on the AAD website, also emphasizes the importance of the human-centered nature of this concept as dermatologists integrate AuI into their practice, noting that “patients should feel well cared for even when interacting with software.”

“We are at the precipice of seeing the beginnings of augmented intelligence tools influence our practice,” statement coauthor Justin M. Ko, MD, MBA, said in an interview. “At the outset, it will likely be systems and tools that are working on practice management processes, insights, and analytics. However, I don’t believe we’re far from seeing the mainstream integration say, of triage, point of care diagnostic support, or chronic disease management capabilities that rely in some part on augmented intelligence models.”

“The key is that we recognize that this is on the horizon, and that we actively work to shape the development and deployment of these tools in a responsible way that enhances patient care and ensures that patient safety is held paramount,” added Dr. Ko, director and chief of medical dermatology at Stanford (Calif.) University.

“We want patients and clinicians to recognize the potential of such tools to augment the core care relationship and improve the delivery of such care,” he explained. “At the same time, we know that, from the technology that exists all around us in all aspects of our lives, that despite the best intentions, there [may be] unintended consequences in the medical realm. We must be cognizant of possibilities, for example, of amplifying bias and increasing health inequity, and take an active approach to mitigating these risks.”

The AAD position statement notes that high-quality AuI will be “designed and evaluated in a manner that enables the delivery of high-quality care to patients.” During development and clinical deployment, the statement highlighted the importance of collaboration with practitioners, and that “AuI must integrate into physician and provider workflows.” The statement advises that AuI tools should be regulated appropriately, and that postmarketing surveillance will be necessary after clinical launch of these tools, measuring outcomes such as “quality, cost, and/or efficiency of care delivery.”

While the first half of the statement provides a roadmap for AuI development and implementation, the second half further emphasizes collaboration and communication with a number of stakeholders. “Effective and ethical development and implementation of AuI will require continuous engagement, education, exploration of privacy and medical-legal issues, and advocacy,” the statement says. “Although the promise of AuI to improve health and wellness holds significant potential,” the statement says, “issues related to privacy and medical-legal complications are amplified by technology that requires transmission of data beyond the confines of a providers’ institution. Protected Health Information must be managed with effective safeguards to prevent inadvertent exposure.”

The conclusion of the statement revisits the game-changing nature of AuI while asserting the AAD’s commitment to guiding integration with dermatology practice. “AuI has the potential to transform our collective and personal experience of health, health care, and wellness,” the AAD wrote. “To achieve this potential, deliberate and diligent efforts must be taken to engage and collaborate with stakeholders and policy makers. The Academy hopes to work with administrative and legislative colleagues to create policies that promote AuI that is high quality, inclusive, equitable, and accessible. Through collaboration and research, the Academy strives to guide the design, implementation, and regulation of these technologies and augment care for all.”

The statement also includes a glossary of terms used in this area. The AAD’s Ad Hoc Taskforce on Augmented Intelligence wrote the position statement; Dr. Ko is on the task force and serves as its chairman.

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