Does APAC need to regulate data-driven healthcare providers?
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Does APAC need to regulate data-driven healthcare providers?

HEALTHCARE providers across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region are building systems that are artificially intelligent, powered by data, and capture and analyse information in real time to produce actionable insights.

There are also several technology companies in the healthcare space, creating data-driven solutions to support customers and improve their experience.

It is therefore surprising that there are no laws to specifically regulate how all of these businesses manage data and use it to build their offering, usually with some degree of AI-built in.

SEE ALSO: The causes and (expensive) fallout of the SingHealth data breach

True, there are personal data protection laws in Singapore, Malaysia, and other countries in the APAC, but none are particularly sensitive to the complexities of data this sector.

This is something that has suddenly become a question consumers and businesses are asking in light of the new announcement by the Department of Health and Social Care in the UK.

Created with input from industry, academics and patient groups, the code encourages technology companies to meet a gold-standard set of principles to protect patient data to the highest standards.

“The aim is to make it easier for suppliers to develop technologies that tackle some of the biggest issues in healthcare, such as dementia, obesity, and cancer. It will also help health and care providers choose safe, effective and secure technology to improve the services they provide,” said a press release.

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(L-R) Cyber Security Agency CEO David Koh, MCI Permanent Secretary Gabriel Lim, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Chan Heng Kee and SingHealth CEO Ivy Ng attend a press conference regarding the SingHealth cyber attack in Singapore. July 20, 2018. Source: The Straits Times/AFP

The new code is of particular interest to businesses in this space because those who comply will be eligible to access data from the NHS’ data pool, allowing them to accelerate the development of products and services.

“This new code sets the bar companies will need to meet to bring their products into the NHS so we can ensure patients can benefit from not just the best new technology, but also the safest and most secure,” explained UK’s Chief Clinical Information Officer for Health and Care Simon Eccles.

The department expects that the code will allow the government to work with suppliers to guide the development of new technology so products are suitable for the NHS in the future.

SEE ALSO: Vietnam passes law requiring Google, Facebook to reveal user data

Further, it is also hoped that the code will help make sure the NHS get a fair deal from the commercialisation of its data resources — benefitting the people of the country as a whole.

“Artificial intelligence has the potential to save lives, but also brings challenges that must be addressed. We need to create an ecosystem of innovation to allow this type of technology to flourish in the NHS and support our incredible workforce to save lives, by equipping clinicians with the tools to provide personalised treatments,” said UK Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.

“AI must be used responsibly and our code of conduct sets a gold-standard set of rules to ensure patient data is always protected and the systems we use are some of the safest in the world.”

Back home in the APAC region, there seem to be far more companies looking to invest in and set up innovative products and solutions in the healthcare space — and such a law will clearly be beneficial.

In the meanwhile, companies looking to benefit from the boom in healthcare-tech should aspire for strong data privacy standards in order to instill confidence among customers that their data will be kept safe.

This article originally appeared on our sister site Tech Wire Asia