Denmark’s vision to become a front-runner in the use of artificial intelligence reflects on the country’s national strategy for AI.

Following the European Commission’s action plan for artificial intelligence in 2018, Denmark has been quick to grasp the opportunities brought by new technologies to generate economic growth and welfare for its citizens. With a vision to become a front-runner in responsible development and use of artificial intelligence, in March 2019 already, the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs published the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence.

What is artificial intelligence?
According to the OECD, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) System as a machine-based system that, by analysing and identifying patterns in data, can identify the most appropriate solution. In particular, by using algorithms (mathematical formulae), it can make predictions, recommendations, or decisions, thus influencing real or virtual environments. The technology can be designed to adapt its behaviour by observing how the environment is influenced by previous actions. AI can be a crucial element to increase productivity growth and to raise the standard of living in the years to come.

Examples of using AI in healthcare
Several public institutions in national, regional and local government already use AI. The first experiences from using AI for faster and better treatment are also now being seen in the healthcare sector.

For example, the Odense University Hospital in the Region of Southern Denmark is working on using AI to diagnose cancer more quickly. By analysing pictures of cancer cells, AI can see whether a cell is cancerous with a high degree of certainty. Early diagnosis makes it possible to commence treatment faster, and thereby improve patients’ chances of survival.

Benefits of using AI in healthcare
Overall, within healthcare, AI is likely to help quicker and better treatment in areas such as planning cancer treatment, predicting the course of diseases, time-critical diagnostics in the acute area as well as decision support for general practitioners regarding rare diseases. AI can also serve as decision support, for example by assisting physicians in common tasks and diagnosing rare diseases. In particular,

  • for patients, AI may lead to better, quicker and more customized diagnosis and treatment, and help earlier prediction and prevention of diseases.
  • for hospitals, AI means that new opportunities arise for managing the logistics behind patient treatment more efficiently and accurately. This will ultimately benefit patients and healthcare professionals as it frees resources for patient contact.
  • for physicians – in primary healthcare and at hospitals – artificial intelligence can help them make the right decisions. This again means better opportunities for quick and accurate diagnosis and better opportunities to focus on patients who require special attention.

National set of goals for use of AI in healthcare
The Danish government has acknowledged all benefits and has set goals for AI employment within specific priority areas, one of them being public health. The goals are:

  • Quicker and better diagnosis as well as more targeted treatments for diseases.
  • Higher quality and more citizen-centred care through better resources management, e.g. optimizing the operation of public hospitals to free-up more beds.
  • More individualized treatment of the sick, e.g. through identification of citizens with heart attack by using advanced voice recognition for emergency calls
  • Better technical aids helping citizens to write, read and hear (intelligent hearing aids, reading aloud etc.).

Public Investment in artificial intelligence in healthcare
The government has already set a direction for the healthcare system of the future with the Digital Health Strategy 2018-2022 and with the health data initiative Health in the future, where utilisation of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, is a common theme. In addition, with world-class digital services, the government has allocated funds to deploy and test new technologies in the health area, for example.

Photo credit: Freepik