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Fostering Trust: How Interactive AI Builds Trust Between Doctors and AI Diagnostics




Artificial Intelligence (AI) holds great promise for healthcare, offering improvements in diagnostic accuracy, reducing workloads, and enhancing patient outcomes. Despite these benefits, there is hesitancy in adopting AI in the medical field. This reluctance stems mainly from a lack of trust among healthcare professionals, who are concerned about job displacement due to AI's superior performance in various tasks and the complex, opaque nature of AI systems. These “black box” technologies often lack transparency, making it difficult for doctors to fully trust them, especially when errors could have serious health implications. While efforts are being made to make AI more understandable, bridging the gap between its technical workings and the intuitive understanding needed by medical practitioners remains a challenge. This article explores a new approach to AI-based medical diagnostics, focusing on ways to make it more trustworthy and acceptable to healthcare professionals.

Why Do Doctors Mistrust AI Diagnostics?

Recent advancements in AI based medical diagnostics aim to automate the entire diagnostic process from start to finish, effectively taking over the role of a medical expert. In this end-to-end approach, the entire diagnostic process, from input to output, is handled within a single model. An example of this approach is an AI system trained to generate medical reports by analyzing images such as chest X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. In this approach, AI algorithms perform a series of tasks, including detecting medical biomarkers and their severity, making decisions based on the detected information, and producing diagnostic reports that describe the health condition, all as a single task.

Although this approach can streamline diagnostic processes, reduce diagnosis time, and potentially increase accuracy by eliminating human biases and errors, it also comes with significant disadvantages that impact its acceptance and implementation in healthcare:

  1. Fear of Being Replaced by AI: One of the primary concerns among healthcare professionals is the fear of job displacement. As AI systems become more capable of performing tasks traditionally handled by medical experts, there is fear that these technologies might replace human roles. This fear can lead to resistance against adopting AI solutions, as medical professionals worry about their job security and the potential devaluation of their expertise.
  2. Mistrust Due to Lack of Transparency (the “Black Box” Issue): AI models, especially complex ones used in medical diagnostics, often operate as “black boxes.” This means that the decision-making processes of these models are not easily understandable or interpretable by humans. Medical professionals find it challenging to trust AI systems when they cannot see or understand how a diagnosis was made. This lack of transparency can result in skepticism and reluctance to rely on AI for critical health decisions, as any error could have serious implications for patient health.
  3. Need for Significant Oversight to Manage Risks: The use of AI in medical diagnostics necessitates substantial oversight to mitigate the risks associated with incorrect diagnoses. AI systems are not infallible and can make errors due to issues like biased training data, technical malfunctions, or unforeseen scenarios. These errors can lead to incorrect diagnoses, which in turn can result in inappropriate treatments or missed critical conditions. Therefore, human oversight is essential to review AI-generated diagnoses and ensure accuracy, adding to the workload rather than reducing it.

How Interactive AI Can Build Doctors' Trust in AI Diagnostics?

Before examining how interactive AI can foster trust in AI diagnostics, it is crucial to define the term within this context. Interactive AI refers to an AI system that allows doctors to engage with it by asking specific queries or performing tasks to support decision-making. Unlike end-to-end AI systems, which automate the entire diagnostic process and take over the role of a medical expert, interactive AI acts as an assistive tool. It helps doctors perform their tasks more efficiently without replacing their role entirely.

In radiology, for instance, interactive AI can aid radiologists by identifying areas that require closer inspection, such as abnormal tissues or unusual patterns. The AI can also evaluate the severity of detected biomarkers, providing detailed metrics and visualizations to help assess the condition's seriousness. Additionally, radiologists can request the AI to compare current MRI scans with previous ones to track the progression of a condition, with the AI highlighting changes over time.

Thus, interactive AI systems enable healthcare professionals to utilize AI's analytical capabilities while maintaining control over the diagnostic process. Doctors can query the AI for specific information, request analyses, or seek recommendations, allowing them to make informed decisions based on AI insights. This interaction fosters a collaborative environment where AI enhances the doctor's expertise rather than replacing it.

Interactive AI has the potential to resolve the persistent issue of doctors' mistrust in AI in the following ways.

  1. Alleviating the Fear of Job Displacement: Interactive AI addresses the job displacement concern by positioning itself as a supportive tool rather than a replacement for medical professionals. It enhances the capabilities of doctors without taking over their roles, thereby alleviating fears of job displacement and emphasizing the value of human expertise in conjunction with AI.
  2. Building Trust with Transparent Diagnostics: Interactive AI systems are more transparent and user-friendly compared to end-to-end AI diagnostics. These systems perform smaller, more manageable tasks that doctors can readily verify. For instance, a doctor could ask an interactive AI system to detect the presence of carcinoma—a type of cancer that appears on chest X-rays as a nodule or abnormal mass—and easily verify the AI’s response. Additionally, interactive AI can provide textual explanations for its reasoning and conclusions. By enabling doctors to ask specific questions and receive detailed explanations of the AI's analysis and recommendations, these systems clarify the decision-making process. This increased transparency builds trust, as doctors can see and understand how the AI arrives at its conclusions.
  3. Enhancing Human Oversight in Diagnostics: Interactive AI maintains the critical element of human oversight. Since the AI acts as an assistant rather than an autonomous decision-maker, doctors remain integral to the diagnostic process. This collaborative approach ensures that any AI-generated insights are carefully reviewed and validated by human experts, thus mitigating risks associated with incorrect diagnoses and maintaining high standards of patient care.

The Bottom Line

Interactive AI has the potential to transform healthcare by improving diagnostic accuracy, reducing workloads, and enhancing patient outcomes. However, for AI to be fully embraced in the medical field, it must address the concerns of healthcare professionals, particularly fears of job displacement and the opacity of “black box” systems. By positioning AI as a supportive tool, fostering transparency, and maintaining essential human oversight, interactive AI can build trust among doctors. This collaborative approach ensures that AI enhances rather than replaces medical expertise, ultimately leading to better patient care and greater acceptance of AI technologies in healthcare.

Dr. Tehseen Zia is a Tenured Associate Professor at COMSATS University Islamabad, holding a PhD in AI from Vienna University of Technology, Austria. Specializing in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Science, and Computer Vision, he has made significant contributions with publications in reputable scientific journals. Dr. Tehseen has also led various industrial projects as the Principal Investigator and served as an AI Consultant.