NHS England will begin a world-leading pilot into Algorithmic Impact Assessments (AIAs) in healthcare to eradicate biases in data
The Government has announced funding to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence across the NHS
NHS England is set to lead a world-first pilot exploring Algorithmic Impact Assessments (AIAs) in healthcare.
The new process will ensure potential risks, such as algorithm biases, are addressed before they can access NHS data.
It is the latest move in efforts to eradicate health inequalities by tackling biases in systems which underpin future health and care services.
The Algorithmic Impact Assessment (AIA), designed by the Ada Lovelace Institute, will be piloted to support researchers and developers assess the possible risks and biases of AI systems to patients and the public before they can access NHS data.
Innovation Minister, Lord Kamall, said: “While AI has great potential to transform health and care services, we must tackle biases, which have the potential to do further harm to some populations as part of our mission to eradicate health disparities.
Through this pilot, we hope to demonstrate the value of supporting developers to meaningfully engage with patients and healthcare professionals much earlier in the process of bringing an AI system to market
“This pilot once again demonstrates the UK is at the forefront of adopting new technologies in a way that is ethical and patient centred.
“By allowing us to pro-actively address risks and biases in systems which will underpin the health and care of the future, we are ensuring we create a system of healthcare which works for everyone, no matter who you are or where you are from.”
The efforts complement ongoing work by the ethics team at the NHS AI Lab on ensuring datasets for training and testing AI systems are diverse and inclusive.
And, taken together, this will result in better health outcomes for everyone, in particular minority groups.
To ensure best practises are embedded in future technologies, the NHS will support researchers and developers to engage patients and healthcare professionals at an early stage of AI development when there is greater flexibility to make adjustments and respond to concerns.
Brhmie Balaram, head of AI research and ethics at the NHS AI Lab, said: “Building trust in the use of AI technologies for screening and diagnosis is fundamental if the NHS is to realise the benefits of AI.
“Through this pilot, we hope to demonstrate the value of supporting developers to meaningfully engage with patients and healthcare professionals much earlier in the process of bringing an AI system to market.
Algorithmic impact assessments have the potential to create greater accountability for the design and deployment of AI systems in healthcare, which can, in turn, build public trust in the use of these systems, mitigate risks of harm to people and groups, and maximise their potential for benefit
“The algorithmic impact assessment will prompt developers to explore and address the legal, socialm and ethical implications of their proposed AI systems as a condition of accessing NHS data.
“We anticipate this will lead to improvements in AI systems and assure patients that their data is being used responsibly and for the public good.”
Following a commission from the NHS AI Ethics Lab, the Ada Lovelace Institute has today published its research, which maps out a detailed, step-by-step process for using an AIAs in the real-world.
It is designed to help developers and researchers consider and account for the potential impacts of proposed technologies on people, society, and the environment.
Octavia Reeve, interim lead at the institute, said: “Algorithmic impact assessments have the potential to create greater accountability for the design and deployment of AI systems in healthcare, which can, in turn, build public trust in the use of these systems, mitigate risks of harm to people and groups, and maximise their potential for benefit.
“We hope that this research will generate further considerations for the use of AIAs in other public and private-sector contexts.”
The NHS AI Lab introduced the AI Ethics Initiative to support research and practical interventions that complement existing efforts to validate, evaluate, and regulate AI-driven technologies in health and care, with a focus on countering health inequalities.
This pilot once again demonstrates the UK is at the forefront of adopting new technologies in a way that is ethical and patient centred
Initially, the AIAs will be trialled across a number of the AI Lab’s initiatives and used as part of the data access process for the National COVID-19 Chest Imaging Database (NCCID) and the proposed National Medical Imaging Platform (NMIP).
The NCCID is a centralised database that supports researchers to better understand COVID-19 and develop technology that enables the best care for patients hospitalised with a severe infection.
And the proposed NMIP will expand on the NCCID and enable the training and testing of screening and diagnostic AI.