Code of conduct for data-driven health and care technology

Updated February 2019

19 Feb 2019

Today we have some truly remarkable data-driven innovations, apps, clinical decision support tools supported by intelligent algorithms, and the widespread adoption of electronic health records. In parallel, we are seeing advancements in technology and, in particular, artificial intelligence (AI) techniques.

Combining these developments with data-sharing across the NHS has the potential to improve diagnosis, treatment, experience of care, efficiency of the system and overall outcomes for the people at the heart of the NHS, public health and the wider health and care system.

Innovators in this field come from sectors that are not necessarily familiar with medical ethics and research regulation, and who may utilise data sets and processing methods that sit outside existing NHS safeguards.

The code of conduct clearly sets out the behaviours we expect from those developing, deploying and using data-driven technologies, to ensure that all those in this chain abide by the ethical principles for data initiatives developed by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics:

  1. respect for persons
  2. respect for human rights
  3. participation
  4. accounting for decisions

The code tackles a number of emerging ethical challenges associated with the use of data-driven technologies in the NHS and the wider health and care system. We therefore expect to engage with the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation on developing and monitoring the code to ensure it fits with the latest best practice. We will continue to engage with all members of the health and care community.

We will publish further updates at the end of 2019.

The ultimate ambition is that the code is complementary to the health research, medical device regulations and the CE mark process as well as other regulatory approvals. When used as part of an overarching strategy it will help to create a trusted environment that supports innovation of data-driven technologies while being:

  • the safest in the world
  • appropriately responsive to progress in innovation
  • ethical, legal, transparent and accountable
  • evidence-based
  • competitive and collaborative
  • in alignment with the NHS Constitution
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