As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more prolific across society, the potential for its use in healthcare expands. With the UK and Japan being among the global leaders of AI, this project by University of Oxford and Osaka University aims to involve the public in helping to understand the barriers and facilitators to implementing AI in healthcare.

Why was this work needed?

While technology has been used in healthcare and medicine for decades, it has so far operated based on rules created by humans. AI, and in particular machine learning, offers an advancement whereby computers can learn from information to generate its own outcomes without human input. This has the potential to support medical decision-making, the development of new treatments, and improved health outcomes. However, there is little information about how it may be used in healthcare among members of the public. Therefore, it is important to understand people’s feelings about uses of AI in healthcare to maintain trust and confidence in healthcare provision.

What happened?

The AIDE project (“The Benefits of Ensuring AI in Healthcare for All: Designing a Sustainable Platform for Public and Professional Stakeholder Engagement”) developed a Patient and Public Involvement Panel. The panel consists of members of the public who have not necessarily been involved previously in activities related to AI in healthcare, who can contribute and represent the views and opinions of patients and citizens in the project. The research team regularly meets with its PPIP members and involves them in the research process.

For example, in 2022, PPIP members helped to design the themes and questions to be used in focus groups with the public, aiming to explore:

  • the information gaps in public knowledge of AI
  • perceptions around the risks and benefits of using AI in healthcare
  • who might be affected by these
  • when the public considers use of AI in healthcare to be appropriate
  • the factors that influence this judgement
  • desire for public role in decision making about AI use in healthcare

In 2023, the findings of these focus groups were shared in a series of online events which were targeted towards the public, including those who had participated. These events were recorded and can be found in the links below.

What were the benefits?

By involving the public in discussions about AI in healthcare, this ensures that future AI tools, guidance and decision-making are more considerate of the public and is designed with them in mind. This will lead to greater transparency, responsibility, and accountability; build public trust and acceptance; and better enable AI tools to benefit society. Participants themselves can benefit from more knowledge about AI, how it may be used in healthcare, and the opportunity to reflect on the issue. 

What type of data was involved?

With regards to the 2022 focus groups, participants were made aware of what data was involved and what would happen to it in a Participant Information Sheet before giving their consent. Data included a short survey about their personal background, recorded and transcribed focus groups, and contact information. All identifiable data was anonymised and eventually deleted when no longer required for the research. Administration data like name and contact details were only accessible to the research team. Participants were able to submit a data access request to receive a copy of all personal data held about them by the research team.

Who funded and collaborated on this work?

The AIDE project is a joint venture between Osaka University in Japan and University of Oxford in England. It is funded by the Japan Science and Technology Agency in Japan and the Economic and Social Research Council in the UK.

Where can I go for more information?

AIDE Homepage

AIDE Project Overview

Participant Information Sheet

AIDE Research Findings