Perspectives of patients and clinicians on big data and AI in health: a comparative empirical investigation


Background Big data and AI applications now play a major role in many health contexts. Much research has already been conducted on ethical and social challenges associated with these technologies. Likewise, there are already some studies that investigate empirically which values and attitudes play a role in connection with their design and implementation. What is still in its infancy, however, is the comparative investigation of the perspectives of different stakeholders.

Methods To explore this issue in a multi-faceted manner, we conducted semi-structured interviews as well as focus group discussions with patients and clinicians. These empirical methods were used to gather interviewee’s views on the opportunities and challenges of medical AI and other data-intensive applications.

Results Different clinician and patient groups are exposed to medical AI to differing degrees. Interviewees expect and demand that the purposes of data processing accord with patient preferences, and that data are put to effective use to generate social value. One central result is the shared tendency of clinicians and patients to maintain individualistic ascriptions of responsibility for clinical outcomes.

Conclusions Medical AI and the proliferation of data with import for health-related inferences shape and partially reconfigure stakeholder expectations of how these technologies relate to the decision-making of human agents. Intuitions about individual responsibility for clinical outcomes could eventually be disrupted by the increasing sophistication of data-intensive and AI-driven clinical tools. Besides individual responsibility, systemic governance will be key to promote alignment with stakeholder expectations in AI-driven and data-intensive health settings.

AI & Society
Patrik Hummel
Patrik Hummel
Assistant Professor