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Health & Medical Sciences

Revolutionising patient care: How AI is used in healthcare in Australia

The use of artificial intelligence in healthcare is on the rise as technological advancements continue to dominate the industry. If you’re feeling hesitant, you’re not alone.


Artificial intelligence (AI) is not a new concept, but it is one that has gained momentum in recent years. How AI is used in healthcare in Australia is an evolving landscape. While the sector has already embraced automated technologies to diagnose, treat and manage patient care, some medical professionals are hesitant to adopt AI. They typically cite concerns around data and privacy protection, autonomy, consent and the absence of human emotions.

Dr Frank Farrelly, a Sydney dentist at Darlinghurst Dental, is one of the many professionals who have adopted AI practices into the workplace. He says while artificial intelligence for patient care can have implications, the positives outweigh the negatives.

Here, we look at this complex issue, examining how AI is being used in healthcare and the opportunities and ramifications as we look towards the future.

How is AI being used in healthcare?

Artificial intelligence in healthcare continues to present itself in many ways, including AI-driven surgical robots, virtual nursing assistants, assisting in the discovery and development of drugs, medical image analyses and data gathering.

AI is also proving to be a pivotal ally for radiologists in the early detection of breast cancer. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology, AI is significantly helping these health professionals to improve their rates of accurate breast cancer diagnoses, elevating patient outcomes.

The Queensland Government is also using AI to predict the demand on our hospitals in the hope of cutting patient waiting times across the state.

In the dentistry industry, technology has played a significant role in the past decade with the digitalisation of laboratory work. AI-assisted tools are now coming into play, especially in relation to dental design purposes.

Dr Farrelly explains: “If you are getting a crown, a splint, or getting any kind of treatment done where it needs to be custom made, you see the dentist. A dentist will take digital impressions of your mouth using a 3D scanner. That scan is then digitally sent to the lab.”

As technology has advanced, AI has been adopted into this process, Dr Farrelly adds. By analysing the uploaded dental impressions, AI algorithms identify the precise boundaries of teeth and gums, generating the ideal design for the dental work.

X-ray diagnosis and medical outlook have also improved. Computer software can now analyse the images and detect an array of health issues, including dental decay, bone loss, infections and gum disease. The information can be monitored and quantified to determine the percentage of damage and prognosis.

“As the technology has got better, the standards have got better,” Dr Farrelly says. “It’s now to the stage where it’s probably not just more efficient, but actually better-quality treatment.”

Artificial intelligence in healthcare: the good and the bad

The movement towards adopting AI has come with its issues. The inability of an AI model to show any sort of compassion or empathy towards patients and staff is an ongoing dilemma, though concerns raised about artificial intelligence replacing doctors have been largely quashed.

Ethical issues relating to data protection, informed consent, autonomy, social gaps and communication have also been raised. In May 2023, the Australian Medical Association called for national regulations on how AI is used in healthcare in Australia. The peak body issued the call following reports that staff at a Perth health service had jeopardised patient privacy by using ChatGPT to write medical notes for patient records.

Concerns about privacy breaches are warranted and are paving the way for regulating AI in the healthcare industry. However, as Dr Farrelly says, there are many other ways to utilise AI in a positive way.

What are the benefits of investing in AI, and how can it be used?

Dr Farrelly points to an improvement in the provision of care being delivered quicker and simpler, as an example.

“Patient education is one benefit of AI, but so too is the removal of misdiagnosis. In a healthcare system where you pay for medical services, accurate diagnoses overall contribute to a more effective healthcare system.”

There are many positives that come with adopting artificial intelligence in the medical industry, such as better use of statistics. Gathered data can provide a better insight into population healthcare characteristics and demographics, which in turn can improve policy and strategies at both a government and private entity level. Other positive examples include:

  • early detection, more accurate diagnosis and data management
  • faster diagnosis and results
  • staff roster planning and management

What AI lacks in terms of emotional intelligence, it makes up in other areas.

Into the future

AI will continue to impact Australia’s healthcare industry at a fast rate. Continued education and research are the only choices and the key to meeting the challenges and ensuring the opportunities bring positive change in healthcare. If you’re interested in investing in your future, visit GlobalHealth Education to view the range of postgraduate courses on offer across nursing, public health, leadership and management, psychology, counselling and mental health