Artificial Intelligence Applications Used in the Clinical Response to COVID-19

A Scoping Review

Published in: PLOS Digital Health, Volume 1, No. 10, e0000132 (2022). doi: 10.1371/journal.pdig.0000132

Posted on RAND.org on October 19, 2022

by Sean Mann, Carl Berdahl, Lawrence Baker, Federico Girosi

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Research into using artificial intelligence (AI) in health care is growing and several observers predicted that AI would play a key role in the clinical response to the COVID-19. Many AI models have been proposed though previous reviews have identified only a few applications used in clinical practice. In this study, we aim to (1) identify and characterize AI applications used in the clinical response to COVID-19; (2) examine the timing, location, and extent of their use; (3) examine how they relate to pre-pandemic applications and the U.S. regulatory approval process; and (4) characterize the evidence that is available to support their use. We searched academic and grey literature sources to identify 66 AI applications that performed a wide range of diagnostic, prognostic, and triage functions in the clinical response to COVID-19. Many were deployed early in the pandemic and most were used in the U.S., other high-income countries, or China. While some applications were used to care for hundreds of thousands of patients, others were used to an unknown or limited extent. We found studies supporting the use of 39 applications, though few of these were independent evaluations and we found no clinical trials evaluating any application's impact on patient health. Due to limited evidence, it is impossible to determine the extent to which the clinical use of AI in the pandemic response has benefited patients overall. Further research is needed, particularly independent evaluations on AI application performance and health impacts in real-world care settings.

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