Smarter Regulation with a data and tech-driven approach – increasing reach and impact

The individuals shown in the one image are: (l-r) Steve Jones (Biophorum), Philip Harman (DAC Beachcroft), David Lawton (Informed Solutions), Tracy Drabble (CQC)

Written by David Lawton, Technical Director, Informed Solutions

The recent Digital Leaders Salons in Manchester and in London, as part of Digital Leaders Week, showed the impact of technological advancement on regulators and the regulated – RegTech for short –  is increasing both its reach and impact on the lives of citizens and businesses.

Led by Informed Solutions, who work with a number of regulators, the two sessions drew in representatives of the Civil Aviation Authority, the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority, NHS Digital, the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise, the Digital Health & Care Alliance, the Professional Standards Authority, CILEx Regulation, the Office for Nuclear Regulation – a wide array of regulators with some very common challenges, it emerged! CQC’s Tracy Drabble provided excellent insight at both sessions to lead the peer-to-peer exchanges.

So what was on the agenda? A lot, for instance how can a better exchange of information between regulators and the regulated be effected? How can use of data analytics help regulators take a more risk-based and less cost-intensive approach to inspection? How can less ‘resource-rich’ sectors emulate the performance of the fintech sector which uses advanced analytics to identify potentially fraudulent transactions on your credit card? What about the ethics of extracting health information from personal devices such as a ‘fitbit’ (other brands are available..)?

The Salons also made clear that RegTech’s use of data isn’t solely about monitoring, however.  For example, CQC is working hard to ensure its registration service, often the first touchpoint between a health or social care provider and the CQC, is as streamlined as possible to support consistent, high quality and timely decisions about their registration. Further, CQC has also recently launched a new service giving citizens the opportunity to give feedback on their experience of care provision which will provide rich informative data to inform next steps actions.

For their part, Informed Solutions’ staff highlighted how Machine Learning and AI are set to transform a healthcare client’s ability to interrogate the huge quantity of data it has assembled in order to reduce the number of patient safety incidents, saving patients from harm and saving the NHS significant amounts in compensation and litigation costs.

Several contributors mentioned cultural impacts – at present an expert (inspector, for instance) determines which establishment to visit, but what if, in future, the computer takes that on? How do the inspectors react to that? Whilst those are concerns for and about individual regulators, what happens if regulators combine their data? Health & financial records, combined, may point to the increased likelihood of serious incidents such as personal harm: but how will the individual react if approached with preventative advice and counselling?

So, technology in the field of regulation – RegTech – is definitely increasing both its reach and impact on the lives of citizens and businesses, the Salons concluded, with several common challenges for regulators identified and a number of attendees expressing interest in further opportunities to share practice – so watch this space!

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