NHSX has published guidance to help innovators better understand the digital and data technology needs of the NHS.

The ‘guide to good practice for digital and data-driven health technologies’ aims to ensure principles of good digital practice can be built into strategy and products “by design”.

Led by the NHSX AI Lab, it replaces the ‘code of conduct for data-driven health and care technologies’ and overs advice on data protection; data transparency; clinical safety; how to operate ethically; and interoperability and open standards.

Dr Indra Joshi, director of AI at NHSX, said: “We want to make the UK one of the best places for innovators to develop AI products for health and care.

“The guide will help innovators understand the needs and values of the NHS and social care from the start which will help speed up adoption once tools are developed and ready for use.

“NHSX is putting the building blocks in place to ensure NHS patients and clinicians are amongst the first to benefit from new technologies, from supporting testing of technologies through the AI Award to advising developers of the standards they’ll need to meet.”

The guidance underpins the NHS Long Term Plan commitment to widespread digitally-enabled care and digital services designed around user need.

“This guide is designed to support innovators in understanding what the NHS is looking for when it buys digital and data-driven technology for use in health and care, so that these principles of good practice can be built into the strategy and product development ‘by design’,” it states.

“This, in turn, will mean that when products are presented for assessment or procurement, many of the criteria in the specification will have already been met. The intention is to smooth the path between development and procurement so that the NHS may realise the benefits that digital technologies can bring.”

As part of its work in the AI Lab NHSX has collected more than 40,000 CT scans, MRIs and X-rays from more than 10,000 patients across 18 NHS trusts in a bid to develop artificial intelligence solutions to tackle Covid-19.

It forms the National Covid-19 Chest Imaging Database (NCCID) and have been extended to hospitals and universities who are using the images to track patterns of illness.

Artificial intelligence has also been a focus of health secretary Matt Hancock who recently told the G7 nations the UK would work with them to “look at internationally recognised standards for AI”.

More information on the guide to good can be found on the government’s website here.

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