While the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI) is making headlines, it's becoming an integral part of all aspects of daily life, including in healthcare and medical technology. Many devices now incorporate some form of AI, and the FDA has even created regulatory pathways to incorporate AI into medical devices.

A recent survey finds that while most consumers widely accept the use of advanced technologies in healthcare, 45 percent rated their trust in AI in healthcare as very or somewhat trustworthy. Not surprisingly — with so much still unknown about the long-term effects of AI — 40 percent fell in the middle. The final 15 percent ranked it as untrustworthy. The survey was conducted by HealthCare.com Insurance Services. Notably, the site itself uses AI and machine learning to provide more personalized user experiences for both consumers in its omnichannel direct enrollment path, and for sales agents of its external distribution partners.

According to the survey, while it’s unclear how many Americans know when AI is used in their healthcare, 69 percent of respondents say they have not experienced medical treatment that uses AI. That compares to 20 percent who say they have experienced AI in treatments and 11 percent who are unsure.

And the 11 percent is probably closer to reality. Unless it is disclosed to them by the physician or in product materials, most people are unlikely to know whether AI is being used in their treatment or care.

Among eight possible AI uses in healthcare, the top three reported by those polled are virtual health assistants (33 percent), targeted treatments (30 percent), and diagnosis of blood diseases (21 percent). Among 12 possible promising future uses for AI, Americans look first to the management of medical records (26 percent), virtual health assistants (25 percent), and improved healthcare access (25 percent).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of healthcare applications began using AI. A report from Grand View Research notes that MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, for example, began “focusing on product innovation and technological collaborations to expand their product portfolio and meet the growing demands during the pandemic.”

That report also notes that AI and machine learning (ML) algorithms are being widely adopted and integrated into healthcare systems to accurately predict diseases in their early stage based on historical health datasets, noting that factors such as a growing shortage of healthcare workers are driving the adoption of AI and ML technologies.

The Healthcare.com survey explored the adoption of other technologies as well, including wearables and telehealth. While trust of AI ranked lower than for wearables and telehealth, AI appears on its way to being readily accepted in healthcare.

Sherrie Trigg

Editor and Director of Medical Content

A copy of the survey is available here .