The Department for Health & Social Care has published a new code of conduct for the use of data-driven technology in the NHS, hailed by the health secretary as a “gold standard set of rules to ensure patient data is always protected”.
The 10 principles, drawn up with the support of the industry, academics and patient groups, are aimed at making it easier for suppliers to develop technologies to treat conditions such as dementia, obesity and cancer, and to help health and care providers choose safe and effective solutions.
Most of the principles focus on issues of fairness, transparency and accountability, and include a commitment to detail what type of algorithms are being developed or deployed, the ethical examination of how the data is used, how its performance will be validated and how it will be integrated into health and care provision.
The document says that combining these with data sharing across the NHS has the potential to improve diagnosis, treatment, the experience of care, efficiency of the system and overall outcomes.
The code is aimed at helping innovators to stay within medical ethics and research regulations, and to ensure the health service can get the best from allowing companies to access its data. It will be regularly updated in partnership with industry and stakeholders.
Health secretary Matt Hancock commented: “We need to create an ecosystem of innovation to allow this type of technology to flourish in the NHS and support our incredible workforce to save lives, by equipping clinicians with the tools to provide personalised treatments.
“Artificial intelligence must be used responsibly and our code of conduct sets a gold standard set of rules to ensure patient data is always protected and the systems we use are some of the safest in the world.”