Key message

The Government has published a voluntary code of conduct for data driven health and care technology developers and users and has invited responses to it, before it publishes the final version in December, which will become a standard for tech partnerships with the public sector. Tech businesses seeking to work with the NHS should review the Code and respond to it to say whether they could implement the 10 principles in the Code and to set out what the key barriers to technology adoption are.

Detail

The environment for data driven technology in the health and care sector is not always conducive to ensuring that beneficial technology is adopted by the NHS to improve people’s health and wellbeing, so any steps the Government takes to overcome hurdles should be welcomed.

Simplifying regulation, reducing the fragmented nature of public sector purchasing and allowing for more flexibility in NHS payment systems to allow for the introduction of new technology are all essential for better adoption of new technology. The Government is taking what might be an important step in this direction by publishing an Initial Code of Conduct for Data Driven Health and Care Technology [click here for further information] which is designed to set out what Government expects from industry engaging with the NHS and how the NHS should engage in return.

It is a voluntary code which the Government wants stakeholders to co-design. Tech businesses can sign up to it now, but perhaps more importantly at this stage, should be encouraged to respond to it because a final version of the code will be published in December at which point the Government intends it to become a standard for technology partnerships with the public sector. The Code has been drafted to take full account of the new data protection regime introduced by the GDPR, and it will be imperative for both the NHS and Tech businesses wishing to share personal data and sensitive personal data, that they comply and can demonstrate they comply with the new data protection laws governing the processing of that data.

In the Code the Government makes 5 commitments:

  1. Simplifying the landscape – particularly regulation and means of engagement with the NHS
  2. Improving safe and secure access to NHS data for R&D purposes
  3. Encouraging the adoption of innovation
  4. Improving interoperability through new programming interfaces and openness through public data standards
  5. Listening to users

It also sets out 10 principles:

  1. Define the user – show who the product is for, explain the problem you are trying to solve and the benefits that can be expected
  2. Define the value proposition – highlight outcomes and benefits
  3. Be fair, transparent and accountable
  4. Use data that is proportionate to the user need
  5. Make use of open standards to ensure you can communicate easily with national systems
  6. Be transparent – show that you understand the quality of the data and its limitations
  7. Data security must be integral to design
  8. Define the commercial strategy and only enter into commercial terms which fairly share the benefits of partnerships between tech businesses and health and care providers
  9. Show evidence of effectiveness
  10. Show the learning methodology of the algorithm you are building

The Code contains a link to a questionnaire in which participants are asked whether they could implement the principles of the code and if not, why not and to explain what they see as the key barriers to implementation of data driven technology are.