The power of industry and university collaboration has been again demonstrated with La Trobe University student Tamara Marwood publishing a desktop review on The Ethical Application of AI in Health following an internship with not-for-profit public health organisation the Sax Institute. 

The DHCRC brought together La Trobe University and the Sax Institute to create and fund three internships across key issues that are front of mind for industry professionals today – artificial intelligence, synthetic data and aged care reform.

DHCRC Education Manager Dr Melanie Haines said the project again demonstrates how internships provide real and tangible benefits for students, universities and industry.

“Our internship program is focused on upskilling the future generation of healthcare workers but is equally about addressing real world challenges facing industry today,” Dr Haines said.

Ms Marwood, who was undertaking a Graduate Diploma in Digital Health, but has since also applied for her Masters of Research, said the opportunity to immerse with leaders in digital health and gain practical industry experiences was invaluable.

“The internship presented an opportunity to build a deep understanding of the organisation and what was important for them in helping to advance their mission,” Ms Marwood said.

“The need to better understand how to ethically apply AI, and what frameworks currently exist, arose as the key question that had not been addressed.”

The recently released publication provides a desktop review of publicly available ethical frameworks in Australia for the implementation of AI and finds very limited application in the healthcare sector.

“AI can provide tremendous solutions for healthcare, but it is fraught with significant risk,” Ms Marwood said. “While healthcare professionals are aware of these risks there is a significant need for an ethical framework to help healthcare professionals understand and evaluate AI for health applications.”

Matthew Gorringe, Director, SURE, at the Sax Institute, said the internship provided an opportunity to explore an emerging field of practice and delivered tangible outcomes.

“This internship has helped the Sax Institute, as the operator of the Secure Unified Research Environment (SURE) and the data custodian and owner of the 45 and Up Study, to explore the ethics of applying artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques in health research,” Mr Gorringe said. “Now, data custodians and ethics committees have a map to current frameworks that can be used to assess AI applications.”

Dr Urooj Raza Khan, Senior Lecturer and Course Coordinator for Digital Health at La Trobe University said the internship provides the university and intern a unique opportunity to solve real world industry problems using evidence-based research practices.

“We know there is a digital health skilled workforce shortage that limits our capacity to deal with the challenges facing the health system, ” Dr Khan said. “Our workforce internship program is one-of-a-kind innovative and agile solution, designed to train tomorrow’s workforce using research informed approaches. I believe such university-industry collaboration is instrumental to fill in the skills gap and advance research and industry innovation.”

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