NHS England’s AI healthcare pilot is ‘key to building public trust’

Plans by the NHS in England to launch a pilot of algorithmic impact assessments (AIAs) will be ‘key to building public confidence’ in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare, expert says Health care.

AIAs are programs that help AI system developers analyze the potential advantages and disadvantages of the systems they design. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it hoped the technology, designed by the Ada Lovelace Institute, would ensure that potential risks such as algorithm bias from AI systems for patients and the public are processed before NHS data is accessed.

Cerys Wyn Davies, medtech and digital health industry expert at Pinsent Masons, said the use of AIAs was “key to building public confidence in AI technology and confidence in its use. in health management. While artificial intelligence has the potential to help clinicians and healthcare staff deliver better care and treatment to people, it could also exacerbate existing health inequalities if concerns such as algorithmic biases are not addressed. into account.

“Access to data is essential in the development of AI systems and improving transparency and accountability is seen as essential to achieving a society willing to share personal health data for the greater public good. “, she added.

The pilot will see AIAs tested in a number of NHS AI Lab initiatives in England, including the data access process for the National Covid-19 Chest Imaging Database (NCCID) – a database center that supports coronavirus researchers. AIAs will also be tested on the proposed National Medical Imaging Platform (NMIP), which will test the screening and diagnostic capabilities of AI technologies.

Helen Cline, Health and Life Sciences Law Expert at Pinsent Masons, said: “The use of AIAs is intended to complement and build on existing regulatory requirements imposed on proposed medical AI products. . The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) requires organizations to assign a risk category to these products, which can sometimes be difficult – so as part of an accountability framework and regulators, AIAs can be useful in accessing the risks associated with AI systems developed for medical purposes.

The DHSC said the NHS would support researchers and developers to engage patients and healthcare professionals at an early stage in AI development – ​​when there is greater flexibility to make adjustments and respond to challenges. concerns. He said supporting patient and public participation as part of the development process will lead to improvements in patient experience and clinical integration of AI.

Cline added: “Further regulatory updates in this area are expected soon, with the MHRA proposing a new early access pathway for software and AI as a medical device which could also help clarify the risk profile. Consultation on this proposal and a wider review of medtech regulation in the UK closed in November 2021 and the UK government’s response is expected in April.

Comments are closed.