NHS to use new code of conduct for AI systems, UK

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The new code of conduct for AI will protect patient data, the Government says.

The UK Government has announced that the NHS will use a new code of conduct for AI systems. According to Gov.uk, the new code of conduct will make sure that the NHS uses the best and safest data-driven technologies. It will also protect patient data.

AI stands for Artificial Intelligence – software technologies that make machines think like us (humans). It also makes them behave like us.

New code helps protect patient data

The new code encourages tech firms to meet a gold-standard set of principles, the Government claims. The term ‘gold standard’ refers to the protection of patient data.

Patient groups, the healthcare industry, tech firms, and academics helped draw up the code.

According to a UK Government press release:

“The aim is to make it easier for suppliers to develop technologies that tackle some of the biggest issues in healthcare, such as dementia, obesity, and cancer.”

“It will also help health and care providers choose safe, effective and secure technology to improve the services they provide.”

The new code will:

  • Promote the United Kingdom as the best place globally to invest in health tech.
  • Provide evidence to commissioners and industry of what good practice looks like.
  • Reassure healthcare professionals and patients regarding the safety of data-driven technology. It will also reassure them regarding its effectiveness and respect for privacy.
  • Allow the authorities to work with suppliers to guide the development of new technology. This ensures that goods are suitable for the NHS today and in the future.
  • Ensure that the NHS gets a fair deal when its data resources are commercialised.

The new code will also make sure that the NHS gets what it deserves for allowing firms to access its data pool to create life-saving AI systems.

Ten principles make up the code. They set out how the Government will make it easier for firms to work with the NHS. Specifically, to create new technologies. They also set out what the NHS will expect in return.

The Government, industry, and stakeholders will work together to make sure the new code remains up-to-date.

NHS already using AI technology

According to the Government:

“AI technology is already being used across the NHS to improve the early diagnosis of heart disease and lung cancer, to reduce the number of unnecessary operations performed due to false positives, assist research by better matching patients to clinical trials, and support the planning of care for patients with complex needs.”

Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, said:

“Artificial intelligence has the potential to save lives, but also brings challenges that must be addressed. 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.”

“AI 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.”

New code sets the bar

NHS Chief Clinical Information Officer for Health and Care, Dr. Simon Eccles, said:

“Parts of the NHS have already shown the potential impact AI could have in the future of the NHS in reading scans, for example, to enable clinicians to focus on the most difficult cases.”

“This new code sets the bar companies will need to meet to bring their products into the NHS so we can ensure patients can benefit from not just the best new technology, but also the safest and most secure.”

What is Artificial Intelligence?