Alpha Health’s Ethical Principles and Commitments

Posted / 22nd June 2020

At Alpha Health, we believe that being trusted and trustworthy is critical to our mission to help people improve their health, and that being ethical will underpin this trust. 

 

This paper sets out our ethical principles which frame what it means for Alpha Health to act ethically, and which we believe will build trust in our work to support people to be healthier:

    1. Improving your health and happiness
    2. Putting you in control
    3. Being understandable and transparent
    4. Securing your data
    5. Being accountable

 

To expand on what these principles mean in practice, this paper also describes a set of commitments – see below. We aim to continue evolving these commitments, within the same intentional frame, as we implement them in practice.

 

You can learn more about how we developed our Ethical Principles and Commitments, as well as how we will deliver them and govern them in these papers:

 

In developing our ethics strategy, we recognise that there is much that we don’t know. The application of digital technology, and especially machine learning, to health is still very much in its infancy. Therefore no society has yet developed and iterated a set of norms and behaviours that means that the technology can work best for everyone in that society. As such, there is much that remains unknown and we are sure that we will need to evolve our approach as we and others experiment and learn. We therefore welcome comments and input on our principles and commitments, and the work that underpins them – please send them to oliver.smith@telefonica.com.

 

If we are to truly harness the opportunity of technology to improve health then we must all help to build the new norms and behaviours that are required for these technologies to be a part of our everyday lives.

 

Our Ethical Commitments

Principles Commitments
Improving your health and happiness We aim to support our users to achieve their optimal1 balance of health and happiness
We will ensure that our recommendations are not based on discriminatory bias2
Putting you in control We will follow best practice in giving users control over how we use their personal data
We will deploy the best available techniques to prevent any user from becoming addicted to any of our services
Being understandable and transparent We will explain how our services work to support you in having the greatest possible health and happiness; in doing this, we will ensure that such explanations are comprehensible, aiming for a reading age of no more than 11
We will publish the ethical approvals of our research and external audits of our work, although we may remove some commercially sensitive information
Securing your data We use the state-of-the-art industry standards of encryption to protect your data
We will create products and services that preserve as much privacy as possible, for you and your community
Being accountable We will not generate revenue through serving adverts to end-users of our services
We will hold external audits at least once annually to assess progress against our ethics strategy, including algorithmic audits

 

1 By optimal, we mean that we seek to maximise a user’s health status without significantly reducing their pleasure, purpose, or sense of control, and without widening or reinforcing any inequalities experienced by our user. See Alpha Health’s Governance Framework for its Ethics Strategy for more

2A discriminatory bias is one that widens or reinforces any inequalities experienced by our users. In assessing our recommendations for bias we will pay particular attention to protected characteristics under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Article 21 (such, as gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, age, belief)