The biggest challenge, however, comes with the adoption of synthetic Anteligence or other independent systems that use data. The benefits are undeniable: the use of artificial intelligence in the analysis of medical images, for example, allows the detection of anomalies that the human eye may not be able to achieve or the introduction of an automatic learning algorithm into devices containing hospital data that it expects to be useful to needs and resources. In addition to the evident savings, from thousands to millions of euros, time is saved – for the patient and health professionals to dedicate themselves to the tasks where they can add the most value.
But the maturity of digital technologies and the differentiation of health professionals in Portugal, alone, is not enough. There is a need for cultural change, as managers and professionals are able to look at hospitals’ internal processes and understand how to improve them, and acknowledge the role of technology. Even before this knowledge, it is necessary to define the way forward to make our country more competitive in this area. To this end, the European Commission’s strategic foundations for placing AI, in particular, at the service of the citizen, are a good reference.
From the start it will be imperative to have funding programs, both public and private, that allow testing and piloting of all innovations in progress. On the one hand, without denying that it might be frightening to have a machine and an algorithm for making decisions, it will be necessary to create an ethical, legal and regulatory framework, in order to prepare professionals, managers and citizens for the correct use of artificial intelligence however, to protect the data protection of each of us.
Through the appropriate preparation of the professionals and managers of tomorrow – those who work with technology – and with the participation of citizens, the seeds for Portugal are prepared to become a true reference in the field of digital health, in Europe and in the rest of the world.