11 January 2018
In light of the think-tank Reform's report into the use of Artificial Intelligence in health care, NHS Digital's Director of Data, Professor Daniel Ray, commented on the paper's recommendations about the need to get data right in order to progress the use of artificial intelligence in health care.
Prof. Ray said: "To harness the power of AI, we need to get the data right. We are encouraging partners to evaluate the quality of our statistics through our data quality maturity index. This is a quarterly publication intended to highlight the importance of data quality in the NHS. We are constantly seeking to improve it applies and evaluates health data and want continuous feedback from users on this.
"We also need to make sure that the data provided for use in AI algorithms is designed with the best interests of patients at the forefront of all decision making.
To do this we need to overcome the challenges of understanding the decisions AI algorithms make when using data. These include to what extent have AI algorithms been tested and if they work well in one group of patients is this transferrable to another group. We also need to assess when an AI algorithm makes a decision is this always programmed to be in the best interests of the patient.
"In specialist areas AI has great potential for success and there are good examples of this starting to happen in the NHS, but we need to understand and evaluate this to move it forwards.
"We know that health data is personal and sensitive, so there are rightly strict rules in place about how and when it can be used or shared. We need to ensure that any new developments harness the power of data but that they do so responsibly and within the legal frameworks."
The Data Quality Maturity Index (DQMI) provides data submitters with timely and transparent information about their data quality. The initial publication (24 May 2016) focused on the quality of a core set of data items that had been identified by a National Information Board (NIB) working group as being of importance to commissioners and regulators. Subsequent versions of the DQMI have been - and will be - refined based upon stakeholder feedback and will include additional data items and datasets submitted nationally by providers. The current DQMI is a data quality value index based on the completeness and validity of the core data items agreed by the NIB working group. These include NHS number, date of birth, gender, postcode, speciality and consultant