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Series 1: Artificial Intelligence + Healthcare

This webinar series explores the technology that everyone is suddenly talking about: AI.

AI, or Artificial Intelligence, has rapidly accelerated into the public consciousness in recent months with applications such as Chat GPT driving conversations about ethics, safety, and the future of work. But what is AI? How is it being used in healthcare? What do consumers need to know to manage their care effectively in years to come?

Over 4 weeks we heard from expert speakers as they led us to a greater understanding of this new technology.

Read more about:

Further reading

Queensland Digital Health Consumer Charter

The Queensland Digital Health Consumer Charter supports consumers to understand how best to use digital technology to improve their health and continue to receive the care they want and need, in ways that best work for them.

Articles on AI from The Conversation

The Conversation is a unique collaboration between academics and journalists that is the world’s leading publisher of research-based news and analysis. Articles published by The Conversation are created by academics and journalists working together, supported by a team of digital technology experts.



Why FutureCare?

Health Consumers Queensland supports ordinary people like you to work in partnership with health services. The aim of these partnerships is to improve the way healthcare is delivered, making the experience better and safer for everyone. Staying abreast of the latest technology and tools in healthcare is essential to making informed choices in our own healthcare, and being able to influence healthcare in consumer partnerships. The FutureCare series is just one of the ways we help health consumers make sense of rapid changes in healthcare delivery.

 What is Artificial Intelligence?

Assoc Prof Clair Sullivan, University of Queensland

Clair provided an understanding of the basics of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its implications for health consumers. By delving into the principles of AI, including machine learning and deep learning, Clair explores how these technologies are transforming the healthcare landscape. From personalised medicine to early disease detection, AI holds immense potential to revolutionise healthcare delivery, empower patients, and enhance outcomes. However, it is crucial to address the ethical considerations, privacy concerns, and challenges associated with AI adoption which Clair touches on during this presentation.

View the slides from this presentation

AI + Human Rights

Megan Fairweather, Chief Legal Counsel, Queensland Health

Megan explains the role of human rights in Queensland public sector decision making, and discusses the benefits and risks of allowing AI into government decision making.

AI + Ethics

Bernadette Richards, Associate Professor of Medical Ethics and Professionalism, University of Queensland

2023 has seen the emergence of ChatGPT, large language models and an exponential growth of the impact of innovation, technology and AI on healthcare. Whilst these innovations offer exciting potential they also raise  concerns including the role of the health professional, patient autonomy, the nature of the doctor/patient partnership and the future of healthcare. This discussion highlighted some of the ethical challenges found at the intersection of ethics, healthcare and technological innovation.

Consumers + AI

Matthew Ames and Hamza Vayani

In this episode, we hear from consumer representatives involved in digital health and AI projects: Matthew Ames and Hamza Vayani. They each bring a unique perspective and insightful questions about the implications of this technology for a wide range of groups, including people living with disability and multicultural people. They are both amazing people and engaging speakers so please don’t miss this one.

Series host

Jo Smethurst

Jo Smethurst

Senior Engagement Advisor, Health Consumers Queensland

Jo is responsible for developing the capacity of consumers and staff to work together to design a health system that provides great health outcomes and experiences.  Her main area of work is with staff in the Department of Health but also provides support to a number of Hospital and Health Services. Her strategic advice to consumers, health leaders and staff is supported by her formal qualifications, her extensive knowledge of consumer engagement from working at Health Consumers Queensland,  and her lived experience of being a consumer representative.

Meet the presenters

Assoc Prof Clair Sullivan

Assoc Prof Clair Sullivan

Director, Queensland Digital Health Centre (QDHeC)

Associate Professor Clair Sullivan is an internationally-recognised leading practising and academic clinical informatician who helps drive digital health transformation in Queensland.

Clair is the Director of the new Queensland Digital Health Centre within the Centre for Health Research at The University of Queensland.

A specialist endocrinologist, Clair graduated with Honours in Medicine from The University of Queensland and earned a Research Doctorate in Medicine from the University of Leeds. In 2014, Clair began a parallel career in the emerging field of digital health and has held significant leadership roles in digital health practice and governance across government and academia. Her work is regularly translated into practice and informs policy in Australia and globally.

Clair was appointed Associate Professor of Medicine in Clinical Informatics at UQ and is an Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology and an Adjunct Professor, School of Health and Biomedical Sciences at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

She is a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Australian College of Health Informatics and the Australasian Institute of Digital Health.

Megan Fairweather

Megan Fairweather

Chief Legal Counsel, Legal Branch, Corporate Services Division,Queensland Health

Megan is Queensland Health’s Chief Legal Counsel following a career advising the full spectrum of health law and more recently focusing on human rights law.  Megan is a member of the Medico-Legal Society of Queensland and of the Queensland Law Society Administrative and Human Rights Law Committee.

Assoc Professor Bernadette Richards

Assoc Professor Bernadette Richards

Associate Professor of Medical Ethics and Professionalism, University of Queensland

Bernadette is currently Associate Professor of Ethics and Professionalism, and Theme Lead – Kind and Compassionate Professional, at the  University of Qld Medical School. Prior to that, she was working on the Future Health Technologies Project at the Singapore ETH Centre,  exploring trustworthy data governance and Assoc Prof of Law at Adelaide Law School, the University of Adelaide. She is a member of the NHMRC’s Australian Health Ethics Committee and  Embryo Research Licensing Committee and the South Australian Voluntary Assisted Dying Taskforce. She Chaired the Mitochondrial Donation Expert Working Committee and was involved in drafting of the new law. Bernadette is President of the Australasian Association of Bioethics and Health Law (AABHL), and has completed major projects on organ donation, consent to treatment and legal issues around innovative surgery. She is a chief investigator on three major grants, exploring innovation in Healthcare and her co-authored book, ‘Technology, Innovation and Healthcare: An evolving relationship’ was published in February 2022 and she has over 90 other scholarly publications.

Some key ideas explained

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a field of study that focuses on creating computer systems that can perform tasks that would usually require human intelligence. These tasks can range from recognizing objects in images and understanding human speech to making decisions based on data. AI uses algorithms, which are like step-by-step instructions, to analyze information, learn from it, and make decisions or take actions. It aims to make machines smart and capable of mimicking human-like thinking.

How is AI different to machine learning?

Machine learning is a specific type or use of of AI. It involves training computer systems to learn from data and improve their performance over time without being explicitly programmed for each task. In other words, machine learning algorithms enable computers to learn from examples and experiences, recognize patterns, and make predictions or decisions based on that learning. While AI encompasses a broader range of techniques and goals, machine learning is a specific method used to achieve AI’s objectives by training computers to learn and improve their abilities through data analysis.

How is AI used in healthcare?

AI is being increasingly used in various ways to improve healthcare. Some examples include:

  • Medical Diagnostics: AI algorithms can analyze medical images, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, to assist doctors in diagnosing diseases like cancer, cardiovascular conditions, and lung diseases. AI can help detect abnormalities or patterns that may be difficult for human eyes to spot, improving the accuracy and efficiency of diagnoses.
  • Disease Prediction and Prevention: AI can analyze large amounts of patient data, including medical records, genetic information, and lifestyle factors, to identify patterns and risk factors for certain diseases. This can help healthcare providers predict the likelihood of developing diseases and develop personalized prevention strategies.
  • Virtual Assistants and Chatbots: AI-powered virtual assistants and chatbots can provide basic medical information, answer questions, and offer guidance to patients. These tools can be used for symptom assessment, medication reminders, and general health inquiries, providing instant support and relieving the burden on healthcare professionals.
  • Drug Discovery and Development: AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data to identify potential drug candidates and accelerate the drug discovery process. This can help researchers identify promising molecules, predict drug interactions, and optimize treatment plans, ultimately leading to the development of more effective and personalized therapies.
  • Telemedicine and Remote Monitoring: AI enables remote healthcare services and monitoring. Patients can use wearable devices and sensors that collect health data, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels, which can be analyzed in real-time using AI algorithms. This allows healthcare providers to remotely monitor patients, detect anomalies, and intervene promptly when necessary.

These are just a few examples of how AI is being used in the healthcare sector in Australia.

What are Human Rights?

Human rights are the basic freedoms and protections that every person should have. They include things like the right to be treated fairly, the right to speak freely, and the right to be safe from harm. The Queensland Human Rights Commission is the organization that works to protect and promote these rights for the people of Queensland, making sure everyone is treated with dignity and respect. Queensland is unique in Australia in protecting a person’s right to healthcare as a part of the Human Rights Act.

Read more from the Queensland Human Rights Commission

What is a health consumer?

Anyone who uses, has used or might use the health system. That means everyone, but it particularly relates to our interaction with health services. (Sometimes people think of this as being a “patient” but we can also be a health consumer when we read public health information on a billboard. “Health consumer” is a broad term!)

What is a health consumer representative?

A health consumer who has taken up a role to partner with a health service to improve healthcare. An important part of being a health consumer representative is to give the consumer perspective on healthcare services so that the service accommodates the needs and preferences of consumers.