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Cortex - Life Sciences Insights

| 1 minute read

Do medical devices have systematic bias?

An investigation has been launched by the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (“DHSC”) with the overall aim of improving healthcare and tackling disparities arising from the use of medical devices, including in relation to demographic factors, such as ethnicity.

The UK health secretary, Sajid Javid, recently announced the DHSC’s independent review, which will consider the design and use of all medical devices available on the UK market, with a likely focus on devices such as oxygen measuring devices and MRI scanners. 

The review will consider whether existing regulations in the UK mean there is a systemic bias inherent in medical devices. This investigation is key, as without it, inequalities in relation to access to effective healthcare could increase in the UK as the medical device market grows.

The results of this review are expected to be provided towards the end of January 2022, and will include recommendations and consider emerging algorithmic based data and AI tools. Now that the UK is no longer confined to EU regulations, it will be interesting to see if the results will lead to a change in how medical devices are regulated in the UK to minimise the risk of systematic inequalities.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed health disparities across the country as the virus had a greater impact on those whose underlying health was poorer and death rates have been higher among people from ethnic minority communities. While current UK regulations set out clear expectations, they do not currently include provisions to ensure that medical devices are equally effective regardless of demographic factors, such as ethnicity.


covid-19, healthcare, healthtech, medical devices, united kingdom