Beijing municipal health commission bans AI-generated prescriptions as tech industry pushes generative AI for healthcare industry
The municipal health authorities of Beijing are to strictly ban online medical prescriptions produced by generative artificial intelligence, as regulators around the world seek ways of reining in the wildly popular technology.
The 41 measures in draft rules released this week by the Beijing Health Commission seek to regulate various aspects of online healthcare, a market expected to be worth $311.5 billion (£245bn) in China alone by 2026, according to ResearchAndMarkets.com.
Generative AI came into the spotlight late last year after the public release of ChatGPT by Microsoft-backed OpenAI in November.
Since then a number of major tech companies have raced to release their own versions of the technology, including Chinese tech giants such as Baidu and Alibaba, as well as a number of well-funded start-ups.
Many AI firms are focusing on developing systems specialised for specific industries, including healthcare – although China has so far not allowed any of these systems to be released commercially.
Regulators, for their part, have been seeking to tread a fine line between encouraging the economic benefits of the technology while mitigating its potentially negative impacts, which range from job losses to the spread of misinformation.
National regulations on generative AI came into force in China on 15 August, saying that providers of AI large language models (LLMs) and chatbots must not generate content which could aid in the suversion of state power or endanger national security, amongst other measures.
The Beijing commission’s other upcoming measures seek to regulate potential dangers in the growing area of internet-based medicine, by for instance requiring doctors who offer such services to have already practiced clinical medicine for at least three years.
Doctors are required to register with their real names, are obliged to take real identification from patients, and must guide patients to bricks-and-mortar facilities if their cases are unsuitable for online treatment.
Medical records generated by online services must be retained for at least 15 years, and records of the diagnosis process, such as audio and video records, must be retained for at least three years.