Government provides code of conduct on use of AI in the NHS

Written by Sooraj Shah on 10 September 2018 in News
News

Guidance includes protecting patient data and developing technologies in partnership with the NHS

The government has published new guidance for artificial intelligence (AI) and other data-driven technologies, that it claims will enable NHS patients to benefit from new products and services.

Health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy told delegates at the NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo conference that as the likes of AI and machine learning were developing swiftly and that there was huge potential for the technologies to make a change in the healthcare sector.

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The code[SS1]  aims to encourage private sector companies to meet a gold-standard set of principles which should protect patient data and ensure that only the best technologies are used by the NHS.

According to the government, it will ensure the NHS and taxpayers get a “good deal on future partnerships with technology companies” and allow the government to partner with suppliers to develop new technology,  making sure that products are tailored specifically for the NHS. Clear guidelines will also be set on protecting NHS patient data.  

The code sets out 10 key principles, and the government has made it clear that it wants the guidelines to make it easier for suppliers to develop technologies that could help to tackle issues such as dementia, obesity and cancer.

“The principles provide a basis to deepen the trust between patients, clinicians, researchers and innovators,” said Lord O’Shaughnessy.

“This is an important first step towards creating a safe and trusted environment in which innovation can flourish to the benefit of all our heath,” he added.

AI is already being used in the NHS to improve the early diagnosis of heart disease and lung cancer, reduce the number of unnecessary operations performed due to false positives, support the planning of care for patients with complex needs, and better match patients to clinical trials.

However, the technology – and particularly the use of patient data – has been a controversial topic, particularly the partnerships that Google-owned DeepMind has with several NHS trusts.

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