The covid pandemic has shown all New Zealanders just how important AI is to health, wellbeing and the economy but there is a long way to go, according to NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller.
This will be central to discussions at the Aotearoa AI summit in Auckland on May 12, he said.
“Aotearoa should be embracing digital health. We’re already seeing many healthcare providers dropping back into pre-covid business as usual practices.
“Health consumers have had a brief experience of just how powerful and convenient virtual healthcare can be.”
Health is big business, yet highly personal. Practices change slowly over time, preserving a high level of trust in advisors and systems.
“We all have a story to tell, an experience of how health could be should be, more effective, personalised and efficient. Health, with costs growing unsustainably, needs disruption.
“Even when our services succeed, our longer, healthier lives cost more to maintain. And despite every effort to counter, the gains in health tend to favour disproportionately those who are already relatively healthy.”
Some Kiwis today are living independently at home for longer by interacting with technology that will remind them to take medication, sense when they have fallen, and communicate their progress with care teams.
Looking forward, AI will increasingly outperform people in translating the unmanageable volume and variety of data and research into practical advice for both our clinical carers and the public.
The AI Summit will hear speakers talk about developing and embracing AI to address health and wellbeing concerns including the capture, storage and use of personal data.
New Zealand is well-positioned to lead this transformation. With high-quality digital health records, innovative kiwi companies, an admired health system and a maturing understanding of the data governance and ethics required to develop this capability.
Muller says AI can help personalise medicine, as well as perform many tasks as well as, or better than, experienced clinicians.
The New Zealand private sector is already adopting AI in areas such as administrative process automation, diagnostic image interpretation and cloud data storage.
“But there is a long way to go, and siloed data will need to be truly standardised, accessible, and available to AI tools,” said Muller.