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AI can help combat health misinformation, White House cancer research head says

The head of the White House cancer moonshot initiative said artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to help combat health misinformation.

In a conversation with The Hill’s Bob Cusack on Thursday, cancer moonshot coordinator Danielle Carnival said patients and caregivers need trusted and accurate information to drive the care they need. There’s a significant opportunity for artificial intelligence to help with that, she said.

“There are lots of risks with artificial intelligence … but one of the opportunities I think is going to make a huge impact in health care is the ability for people to get targeted information in a language or a culturally appropriate way that they can receive and act on,” Carnival said during The Hill’s “U.S. Healthcare’s Annual Checkup” event.

She added that for AI to succeed in health settings, it needs to be used to improve equity.

“As we build these AI systems, it’s not good enough just not to introduce new bias through AI, but to use AI in health care to improve equity, improve the ability for people to get the information and knowledge they need to make preventive health care decisions, to get access to early screening and detection and make decisions,” Carnival said.

Thursday’s event was sponsored by CVS, Novo Nordisk and Astrazeneca.

President Biden said he wants to build on the bipartisan progress in the fight against America’s No. 2 killer, and he has made fighting cancer a priority of his administration by relaunching the “cancer moonshot.”

The first iteration of the moonshot was created in 2016, at the tail end of the Obama administration, when Biden was vice president.

Now, the Biden administration is aiming not only to decrease the number of deaths from the disease, but improve the lives of those who are living with or have survived cancer. One of the initiative’s goals is to cut the cancer death rate by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years.

Carnival said the best way to achieve national progress toward prevention, detection and treatment must increase.

“It’s not just about driving cures or treatments that can get people back to their lives … it’s about making sure we prevent more cancers, we detect them early, and I think we can do that. There’s a huge bipartisan support for these goals,” Carnival said.

The federal government needs to work together across all agencies to emphasize prevention, she added.

“We know that that’s how we save money in the long run, is preventing disease in the first place. I think if we could come together around a really preventive mindset and do the work we need to do, that would be a huge benefit,” Carnival said.

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