Call for views opens to tackle inequality in medical devices

A call for evidence has launched this week to gather insights on the potential of bias in medical devices.

Former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, commissioned the independent review on equity in medical devices, to establish where and how potential ethnic and other unfair biases may arise, and the extent and impact of these.

The review aims to collect existing data and evidence, including research and evaluation of projects, across all types of medical devices. These include devices employing infrared light or imaging that may perform differently depending on skin pigmentation,  artificial intelligence enabled applications used in diagnostics and to explore the clinical algorithms built into them.

In addition to a call for data and evidence, the review aims to capture “suggestions and ideas for potential approaches to improving equity in the use of medical devices”. It hopes to involve a variety of stakeholders, including organisations representing diverse communities and patient groups, academia, research, think tank and funding institutions, clinicians and other healthcare professionals, NHS and health improvement organisations, industry and device regulators.

Following feedback a series of recommendations will be produced through a report to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care  for  consideration by spring 2023. Interim findings are expected to be published in winter 2022.

Gillian Keegan, Health Minister, said: “I am committed to ensuring all patients receive high-quality, innovative healthcare without discrimination. The independent review is part of our vital work to tackle healthcare inequalities, and I invite the industry to share their expertise in the call for evidence so we can ensure medical devices are free of any form of bias.”

Professor Dame Margaret Whitehead, chair of the independent review, added: “We aim to establish where and how potential ethnic and other unfair biases may arise in the design and use of medical devices, and what can be done to make improvements.

“We especially encourage health, technology and industry experts and researchers to share their views and any evidence concerning medical devices in order to help us tackle inequalities in healthcare.”

The call for evidence is open for 8 weeks and will close on Thursday 6 October 2022 at 11:45pm. To find out more please click here.