AI in the Healthcare Sector:
Challenges and Opportunities for Legislation and SMEs

By Vincent Ehrmann

On Tuesday, December 14th, SME Europe of the EPP organized a webinar titled “AI in the Healthcare Sector: Challenges and Opportunities for Legislation and SMEs.”

Hosted by Axel Voss MEP, DANZ, JURI and AIDA Committee and moderated by Dr. Michal Boni, the webinar saw a high-level, expert panel comprised of Verena Kaip, Associate Consultant at APCO Worldwide (Health Practice); Prof. Dr. Regina Beets-Tan, Chair of the Department of Radiology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, and President of the European Society of Radiology; Prof. Dr. Piotr Szymański, Chair of the Regulatory Affairs Committee, European Society of Cardiology; Bleddyn Rees, Chair of the Digital Health Society; Assis. Prof. Dr. Vida Groznik, CEO Neus Diagnostics and Assistant Professor at University of Primorska, FAMNIT; and Dr. Xosé M. Fernandez, Chief Data Officer, Institute Curie.

Axel Voss MEP opened the debate by pointing out the value of the health market as a billion Euro market. Europe is in a unique sandwich position between China and the US; therefore, it should focus on competition and speed. He concluded by outlining a future where millions of lives can be saved using AI.

Verena Kaip continued by explaining how AI is already part of day-to-day life and consequently necessary for the present. She stressed the importance of a uniform system for Europe, as segmentation could hurt the development and technological progress.

Prof. Dr. Regina Beets-Tan presented the use of AI in respect to radiology and imaging. Compared to the performance of specialists and generalists, AI proved more successful in detecting cancer. As the number of cancer patients will increase, AI will help doctors to improve the quality of diagnosis. 

Prof. Dr. Piotr Szymański stated that AI could help decrease the amount of unnecessary medical interventions and simplify clinical trials. To benefit from AI and avoid biased algorithms, however, we need to use high-quality.

Bleddyn Rees warned that the technology behind AI needs to be explained to a population often lacking medical technology’s understanding. For AI to achieve its potential, the digital divide must be overcome.

Assist. Prof. Dr. Vida Groznik explained the algorithm behind her start-up, which helps to diagnose dementia before clinical symptoms occur. She also presented the challenges SMEs face in the medical sector, from high costs of purchasing data to getting certified. 

Dr. Xose M Fernandez concluded the debate by outlining the challenges the healthcare system is going to face in the next decade. He stressed the importance of secure storage of data and the need to equip the health system for the upcoming challenge of handling great amounts of data.

The publication of this document received financial support from the European Parliament. Sole liability rests with the author. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.