Funding to improve health outcomes for minority ethnic populations in the UK through the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) and data-driven technologies in health and care.

Extended Description

Established in 2006 and primarily funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funds health and care research in the UK.

The Artificial Intelligence and Racial and Ethnic Inequalities in Health and Care Call is administered by NIHR and jointly funded by the NHS AI Lab and the Health Foundation. The overall aim of this research call is to support the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) and data-driven technologies in health and care to improve health outcomes for minority ethnic populations in the UK.

Development in AI could play an important role in improving the accuracy of diagnoses and screening; the understanding of biological, social and environmental elements of disease risk; and the quality and safety of healthcare. AI and data-driven technologies could also, in principle, be useful tools for addressing racial and ethnic disparities in health.

However, the design, development and deployment of these technologies can be affected by structural racism, which can amplify bias and risk perpetuating inequalities for minority groups as evidenced in different domains and sectors. There is a risk that these issues could manifest in health and care, and exacerbate existing racial and ethnic inequalities in health outcomes, unless the root causes leading to these problems are addressed. Structural inequities in health and healthcare for minority ethnic communities have also been illuminated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To date, there has been insufficient research into the design, tools and frameworks needed to ensure these technologies do not exacerbate inequalities in health and have a positive impact on minority ethnic communities. Additionally, there has been little exploration of if/how AI developments could be used to address disparities in health and care, particularly in the UK. This call has been set up in response to these gaps in knowledge.

Funding is available under two categories:

  • Understanding and enabling opportunities to use AI to address racial health inequalities. This first category focuses on understanding what the opportunities are to use AI to improve the health outcomes of minority ethnic communities in the UK, and how they could be leveraged. Funding for this category is provided by the Health Foundation.
  • Optimising datasets, and improving AI development, testing and deployment. This second category focuses on creating the conditions to facilitate the adoption of AI that serves the health needs of minority ethnic communities, including through mitigating the risks of perpetuating and entrenching racial health inequalities. Funding for this category is provided by the NHS AI Lab.

Applicants are expected to respond to one of the two categories. Although the funders are each funding one category, all projects will be overseen jointly by the two organisations. Applications that factor in time and/or resources to work with the NHS AI Lab to integrate findings into guidance, tools and/or best practice are particularly encouraged.

Funding body National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
Maximum value £175,000
Reference ID S21658
Category Science and Technology
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Medical Research
Fund or call Fund

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