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6th March 2024

AI ethics expert to drive innovation in children’s healthcare

Melissa McCradden WCH

A global expert in the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI) has been recruited to Adelaide to help drive efficiencies in the clinical, operational and managerial areas of paediatric healthcare.  

Dr Melissa McCradden from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada, has arrived in Adelaide to take up a five-year Hospital Research Foundation Fellowship in Paediatric AI Ethics through the University of Adelaide, alongside a joint appointment as AI Director at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital Network (WCHN).  

Building off her extensive work defining frameworks for the clinical translation of machine learning, the role aims to facilitate the ethical translation and integration of AI models into clinical and operational environments at the WCHN.  

Her work will explore ethical issues for AI in healthcare across three main questions:  

  • What kind of evidence should we be collecting (and how!) when deciding to integrate AI tools in clinical care?  
  • What strategies can we use to prevent inequity and, ideally, improve equity when applying AI tools?  
  • What is important to youth consumers about how we use AI in healthcare? 

“My dream is to have frameworks in place for the safe, reliable and ethical development, testing and integration of AI tools that benefit South Australian patients, staff and the healthcare system,” Dr McCradden said.  

“What I really love is being able to answer patients’ questions. For example, early on in my career I spoke to the Children’s Council at SickKids about AI and their first questions were things like ‘how do you test AI?’ and ‘what are the standards you use to know if it works or not?’.  

“These are big, important questions, and I have kept them in my mind throughout my career.  

“The impact of my work has been the ability to answer those questions in a way that reassures people that AI tools that may be used to help care for patients have been thoroughly tested, are safe, and are implemented with patients’ values at the forefront.”  

Dr McCradden is excited about the opportunity to share her expertise in South Australia.  

“In my short time getting settled I’ve had the joy of meeting so many passionate and innovative folks, from computer scientists, to nurses, to allied health, and physicians.  

“I’m grateful to THRF for their generous support for me to grow my research and experience in Australia, collaborate with my new colleagues, and be a part of bringing AI tools to the bedside to improve care delivery.”