The Alan Turing Institute’s Programme Director for Health and Medical Sciences, Professor Chris Holmes, will be part of an expert panel for an Independent Review on equity in medical devices

The review will establish the extent and impact of unfair bias in the use and design of medical devices and make recommendations for fairer solutions.

It will investigate how the treatment of patients from some ethnic groups may be less effective as a result of ethnic bias in the design of medical devices. For example, devices using infrared light or imaging may perform differently on different skin pigmentation. 

The review will also consider whether artificial intelligence tools used in healthcare have in-built biases that could put women, ethnic minorities and poorer groups at a disadvantage, partly due to underrepresentation in the data. 

The panel will provide recommendations by June of next year on how existing unfair biases can be addressed as well as the role of regulation in removing bias.

Professor Holmes said: “It’s vital that the NHS maintains the highest safety standards when treating patients. The emerging evidence on possible bias in medical devices is concerning and that’s why this review is so important. The huge potential of modern AI to improve health outcomes, while ensuring fairness, makes this review so timely. Everyone – regardless of their ethnicity, gender or sexuality – should have access to the same high-quality care.”

The panel will be chaired by Professor Dame Margaret Whitehead who holds the W.H. Duncan Chair of Public Health at the University of Liverpool. 

Professor Holmes will be joined by fellow panelists Dr Raghib Ali, Senior Clinical Research Associate at the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, Professor Enitan Carrol, Clinical Director of the National Institute for Health Research's Clinical Research Network in the North West Coast and Professor Frank Kee, Director of the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University, Belfast.