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AI devices need regulation - scientists

Thursday November 29th, 2018

The UK needs new procedures to regulate artificial intelligence and other digital health devices, senior researchers warn today.

A major investigation backs the use of new technologies, such as wearable devices, but calls for careful introduction.

It says the NHS must develop “digital healthy literacy.”

This could lead to the NHS becoming a “world leader” in these technologies, according to the Academy of Medical Sciences.

The Academy says there is huge public support for these technologies based on work conducted for the report by pollsters Ipsos MORI.

One of the authors Professor Lionel Tarassenko, from Oxford University, said: "If we are going to reap the benefits of these advances, we must act now. We need to see a widespread increase in digital health literacy throughout the NHS, with the full involvement of patients and the public.

“We also need to think carefully how we regulate and evaluate digital health products, especially when they include artificial intelligence, so that healthcare professionals and patients know that they are safe and reliable and improve patient outcomes."

Another of the authors Dr Kambiz Boomla, a GP in Tower Hamlets, backed the findings.

Dr Boomla said: "My patients don't want to be told the robot will see you now - they want to see a human. However they understand that new technologies can allow patients and their carers to manage their own health better and free up clinician time for direct care. That is the future they want us to deliver.

"The National Health Service gives us the opportunity to join up all the information about patients wherever they are seen.

“Imagine a future where an appointment didn't start with repeating your medical history and medications because your health care professional has all that information up-to-date and accessible to them."

The report is timely as the Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock continued to share his enthusiasm for new technology.

Giving a lecture on the subject yesterday, he praised Steve Jobs of Apple and said: “It’s not a faith in technology. It’s faith in people. Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”

Royal College of GPs chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard urged caution.

She said: “New technology and gadgets can be expensive, and we must be sure that if we are recommending certain devices to patients that we are sure of the reliability and evidence behind them, and that we are not leaving more socio-economically disadvantaged patients, or even just our less tech-savvy patients behind.

“It’s also a reality that many patients might not understand how to interpret the data that their devices are feeding to them, and seek help from a healthcare professional to interpret it – in many cases this wouldn’t be a good use of GPs’ scarce time.


Tags: General Health | NHS | UK News

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