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Unseen algorithms in healthcare

Ngā hātepe hauora kua kore e kitea

Tuesday 9 February 2021

While predictive models have been published in the medical literature for decades, the digitization of healthcare combined with increased computational power and access to data have led to rapid expansion in bedside implementation of models supporting medical decision-making.

The revised National Ethical Standards for Health and Disability Research and Quality Improvement (December 2019) and the Algorithm Charter for Aotearoa New Zealand (July 2020) guide government and researchers in using artificial intelligence, but regulation of software as a medical device (SaMD) is in its infancy. The current onus to ensure transparency, fairness, and efficacy of medical decision-making algorithms reside in the developer and the clinical end-user.

This course offers an overview of technical, ethical, cultural, and governance issues in healthcare algorithms to help minimize the risk of harm while maximizing the benefit in the development and use of decision-support apps, on-line calculators and embedded medical software.

Topics covered

  • Impact of algorithms on medical decision-making
  • Non-technical critical appraisal of algorithms in medicine
  • Ethical issues in algorithm usage
  • Algorithm usage and their impact on Māori
  • Current NZ regulatory environment
  • Governance of medical algorithms
  • Specific case studies of medical algorithms in use

Style of course

Symposium – Multi-speaker presentations and panel discussions in lecture theatre setting, along with interactive audience voting sessions.

Who should attend?  

This course is aimed at policy-makers, healthcare providers, software developers and researchers.

By the end of this course participants should have the knowledge/skills to:

  • Recognize when a medical algorithm is being used
  • Be able to qualitatively assess the evidence supporting the algorithm
  • Recognize ethical concerns in algorithm use in medicine
  • Be familiar with how algorithm use in medicine impacts on Māori
  • Recognize governance issues in algorithm use in medicine
  • Be familiar with the New Zealand regulatory environment

COVID-19 contingency plan

If COVID Alert Level restrictions prevent in-person/face-to-face delivery of this course, it will be delivered online the same day, and a credit of $100 given ($50 for those paying staff/student rate).

If the course is able to be delivered in person, but a participant cannot travel to Wellington due to COVID Alert Level restrictions, the course fee will be refunded in full.


Time Session Presenter(s)
8:30am Registration
9:00am Algorithms in medicine – Introduction Dr Matthew Strother
9:15am Case presentation highlighting impact of algorithm use at patient level – includes live audience voting Dr Matthew Strother and Ms Rochelle Style
10:00am Qualitative critical appraisal of algorithms Dr Matthew Strother
10:30am Morning tea
11:00am Ethical issues raised by the use of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare. Avoiding ethical debt Ms Rochelle Style
11:45am Algorithms and Māori rights and impacts Dr Donna Cormack
12:30pm Lunch break
1:15pm Presentation on 1000minds – decision-making software, conjoint analysis and prioritisation tool. Covid-19 coronavirus: helping doctors decide who gets an ICU bed Professor Paul Hansen
1:35pm Presentation on nzRISK –pre-operative risk prediction tool. Developed and validated for patients in New Zealand, over the age of 18, undergoing non-cardiac surgery Dr Kevin Ross and Mr Luke Boyle
1:55pm Presentation on the Ministry of Health’s experience of operationalising New Zealand’s Covid-19 app Mr Jon Herries
2:15pm Panel discussion on the benefits and risks of algorithms in healthcare Dr Kevin Ross, Mr Luke Boyle, Professor Paul Hansen and Mr Jon Herries. Moderated by Dr Matthew Strother and Ms Rochelle Style
3:00pm Afternoon tea
3:30pm Governance of Healthcare Algorithms in NZ at a DHB level Dr Prageeth Jayathissa
3:50pm Governance of Healthcare Algorithms in NZ at a Ministry of Health level Mr Jon Herries
4:10pm Panel discussion on the implementation and governance of algorithms Dr Prageeth Jayathissa, Mr Jon Herries, Professor Paul Hansen and Dr Kevin Ross. Moderated by Dr Matthew Strother and Ms Rochelle Style
4:45pm Concluding remarks Dr Matthew Strother and Ms Rochelle Style
5:00pm Finish


  • Dr Matthew Strother, Clinical Lead Oncology, Canterbury DHB and Senior Clinical Lecturer, University of Otago
  • Ms Rochelle Style, MBHL (Distinction) and LLB (Hons)
  • Dr Donna Cormack (Kai Tahu, Kāti Mamoe) Senior Researcher Fellow, Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare, University of Otago Wellington and Senior Lecturer at Te Kupenga Hauora Māori, University of Auckland
  • Dr Paul Hansen, Professor of Economics, University of Otago
  • Dr Kevin Ross, CEO, Precision Driven Health
  • Mr Jon Herries, Emerging Health Technology & Innovation, Data and Digital, Ministry of Health
  • Dr Prageeth Jayathissa, Data Scientist Institute for Innovation and Improvement (i3) Waitematā DHB.

Course cost and registration

$300 early bird, $400 after Tuesday 22 December 2020.

A 50 per cent discount is available to full-time students, those unwaged and University of Otago staff.

Register now

Note COVID-19 contingency plan above. Any questions please see FAQ page or email