​New code of conduct for data-driven innovations

A new code of conduct has been launched to enable the development and adoption of safe, ethical and effective data-driven health and care technologies.

The Code of conduct for data-driven health and care technology recognises that a combination of new digital technologies and data-sharing across the NHS has the potential to improve diagnosis, treatment, experience of care, efficiency of the system and overall outcomes across the health and care system.

It is also essential that new solutions to improve the quality and safety of care, including data-driven technologies, are developed and used in a safe, ethical, evidenced and transparent way.

The need for a code of conduct was highlighted in the state of the nation Accelerating AI in health and care report published by the AHSN Network, NHS England and DHSC in September last year.

The code has been developed in discussion with industry experts, academics, regulators and patient representative organisations over the last quarter of 2018.

Welcoming the code, Dr Des Holden, Medical Director of Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network, (which leads on AI for the AHSN Network), said:

"I'm very pleased the code of conduct has now been published and is available to industry and academia, as well as to healthcare commissioners, providers and the public.

"AI and digital solutions need to be designed around real problems of need, with people and their data. Effective solutions are becoming widespread in consumer markets like retail and leisure, in finance and in environmental science.

"The public should, and hopefully will, demand confidence about how data is held and used to develop effective and sustainable pathways of care.

"Providers and commissioners also need a level of confidence in the transparency and validation of algorithms, which the soft regulation of this code of conduct provides."

Alan Davies, AHSN Network deputy lead on digital and AI, said:

"This new code of conduct is essential as we develop technologies which allow us to make smarter use of information about all of us; we need to broker a new era of trust with the public about how we use this data, to ensure people truly understand and have confidence in allowing the information to be used.

"We are rapidly moving towards the ability to predict diseases even before they manifest themselves, for instance through genome sequencing using learning algorithms based on rich datasets.

"Public awareness and support for the use of their data will drive improvements in care – it is fundamentally important to have a code of conduct to build that support."

The code of conduct has been published by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care and is available here.

To add an AI initiative to the AHSN Network directory of AI in health and social care in England, complete this survey.