Artificial Intelligence in elderly care
Elderly care is one of the major healthcare fields where the use of AI systems is already a reality. Examples are sensors for remote monitoring of health status and activity; robots for companionship, reminders for medication and assisting with daily tasks; and smart nursing technology such as smart beds and incontinence materials. While these technologies can be of value in the provision of care, they also pose serious risks around informed consent, privacy, discrimination, accessibility, human dignity and social isolation. Safeguards should be in place to mitigate these risks and ensure that the implementation of AI in this context is trustworthy, fair, equitable and contributes to patient outcomes and wellbeing.
A glaring regulatory void
A major concern however, is that many of the technologies used in elderly care are not considered medical devices, and therefore not subject to regulation or oversight. On top of that, AI systems which are medical devices also experience considerable shortcomings in oversight. Currently no laws exist that specifically regulate AI-assisted medical devices and other health AI in the European Union. With the EU AI Act that will partially change, however, regulatory provisions in this Act as well as the Medical Device Regulation are insufficient to protect patients’ rights. We urgently need robust regulatory guidelines within the legal frameworks governing medical AI as well as non-medical health AI systems. Our advocacy on this thematic is focused on increasing awareness on the regulatory gaps, and convincing duty-bearers to address them.