Imperial College London

Imperial researchers inform smarter regulation in healthcare at policy hackathon


Abstract blue medical data background

How we can bring more data-driven innovations into healthcare was the focus of a policy hackathon organised by The Forum and the think tank Reform.

Imperial AI academics joined a leading group of experts including healthcare regulators, statutory bodies, NHS leaders and senior policymakers to debate and discuss factors that stifle innovation and how they can be addressed.

The event, a virtual policy hackathon on the topic of "Realising Smart Regulation in Healthcare" was organised by The Forum, Imperial’s policy engagement programme, and Reform think tank.

The hackathon built upon the award-winning research Reform produced in collaboration with NHSX. This research identified the main ‘points of tension’ in the regulatory process for data-driven healthcare innovations.

Working together to transform healthcare through the power of AI

Professor Nick Jennings, Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise) at Imperial, opened the event.

“AI offers us a real opportunity to automate, make better and quicker decisions than humans can alone. Humans working with AI can create huge benefits to healthcare and society.”

Humans working with AI can create huge benefits to healthcare and society. Professor Nick Jennings Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise)

Professor Jennings gave examples of pioneering data-driven healthcare innovations going on at Imperial, including the AI clinician led by Professor Aldo Faisal and Professor Anthony Gordon, and a major trial to explore how AI can be used to develop more effective treatments for very ill COVID-19 patients, led by Dr Brijesh Patel.

He also introduced the UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in AI for Healthcare hosted at Imperial.

Nick Jennings addresses attendees
Professor Nick Jennings, who launched The Forum at Imperial, opened the policy hackathon

Professor Jennings then explained The Forum’s role in bringing together Imperial researchers and policymakers, encouraging attendees to make use of the opportunity to connect and think creatively about solutions. “I look forward to seeing how we can all work together to transform healthcare through the power of AI.”

Finding solutions to today's challenges

In the policy hackathon, a set of questions and problems from Reform’s research were explored. Attendees were split into groups with a moderator and the aim was to come out with practical steps and solutions on an aspect of the current regulatory pathway for data-driven technologies in healthcare:

  1. Data access
  2. Proof of concept and evidence building
  3. CE marking and post-market surveillance
  4. Overall regulatory processes
It is this sort of activity, that is part of a tradition at Imperial in engaging regulators with the rapidly moving AI field, that will enable innovators and regulators in the UK to stay ahead of the curve. Professor Aldo Faisal Professor of AI

Three Imperial academics joined the discussions: Professor Rafael Calvo, Chair in Design Engineering, Dyson School of Design Engineering, Professor Aldo Faisal, Professor of AI, Departments of Bioengineering and Computing, and Professor Anthony Gordon, Chair in Anaesthesia and Critical Care, Department of Surgery & Cancer.

“This was a very constructive event, bringing experts across the regulatory spectrum together with clinical and data-driven technology experts,” said Professor Faisal.

“It is this sort of activity, that is part of a tradition at Imperial in engaging regulators with the rapidly moving AI field, that will enable innovators and regulators in the UK to stay ahead of the curve.”

Dr Aldo Faisal
Professor Aldo Faisal was one of three Imperial experts to contribute to the policy discussions

Dr Indra Joshi, Director of AI at NHSX, delivered a keynote opening speech, describing the NHS’s AI Lab, a focal point for accelerating the safe adoption of AI to the front line of health and care.

Dr Joshi also spoke about NHSX’s Buyers Checklist for AI in Health and Care, which will be formally published later this summer, NHSX’s AI regulation programmes and the AI Award in health and care.    

A post-event write-up will be produced as a result of the findings of the hackathon, which will be put forward to provide potential policy solutions to the tension points.

The Forum: Connecting our researchers with policymakers

three attendees converse at an event run by The ForumThe Forum is Imperial College London’s policy engagement programme, connecting Imperial researchers with policy makers to discover new thinking on global challenges. Please get in touch if you would like more information:

Imperial College London is grateful for the support of the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund for carrying out this work.


George Hope

George Hope
Office of the President

Click to expand or contract

Contact details

Show all stories by this author


Industry, Health-policy, Global-challenges-Health-and-wellbeing, Research, Academic-strategy, Global-health, Global-challenges-Data, Artificial-intelligence, Events, Strategy-decision-makers, The-Forum, Comms-strategy-Wider-society, Comms-strategy-Real-world-benefits, Strategy-collaboration, Big-data, REF
See more tags