Health Technology and Big Data: Is ethical debt inevitable?

In the first seminar of our QUT Global Law, Science and Technology Seminar Series, co-hosted by the Australian Centre for Health Law Research (ACHLR), Associate Professor Bernadette Richards explored the challenges of trustworthy data governance.

Abstract: Technology is empowering advances in healthcare, extending beyond the clinical interface to the collection, collation and use of personal data. Whilst this advance has the potential for population-wide benefits, there are legal and ethical challenges which carry the risk of both individual and collective harms.

This presentation will explore the challenges of trustworthy data governance and ask whether the existing approach will achieve the sometimes competing goals of building and maintaining social trust, improving and advancing healthcare and protecting individual patient interests.

Different governance models will be considered and the concept of ethical debt introduced. Underpinning this discussion will be the twin themes of trust and social license and we will consider whether trustworthy data governance is possible or does this seemingly inevitable march of technology mean the inevitable accrual of ethical debt.


You can also watch the presentation at The QUTUBE, the official YouTube channel for Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

About Bernadette Richards

Associate Professor Bernadette RichardsAssociate Professor Bernadette RichardsBA, LLB (Hons), PhD has recently joined the University of Queensland Medical School as Associate Professor of Ethics and Professionalism. Prior to this she worked on the Future Health Technologies Project at the Singapore ETH Centre, Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE), exploring trustworthy data governance. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Law at the QUT Australian Centre for Health Law Research and Adelaide Law School. She is a member of the NHMRC’s Australian Health Ethics Committee, the Embryo Research Licensing Committee and Dietary Guidelines Governance Committee, and the South Australian Voluntary Assisted Dying Taskforce. Previously the Chair of the Mitochondrial Donation Expert Working Committee Bernadette was involved in the proposed amendment to the law.

She is the current President of the Australasian Association of Bioethics and Health Law (AABHL), and is an active researcher, having completed major projects on organ donation, consent to treatment and legal issues around innovative surgery.

She is a chief investigator on three current major grants, NHMRC Partnership Grant, ‘Strategies for the inclusion of vulnerable populations in developing complex and sensitive public policy: A case study in Advance Care Planning’, NHMRC Ideas Grant, ‘The algorithm will see you now: ethical, legal and social implications of adopting machine learning systems for diagnosis and screening’ and ARC Discovery Grant,  ‘Support or Sales? Medical Device Representatives in Australian Hospitals’. Her co-authored book, ‘Technology, Innovation and Healthcare: An evolving relationship’ was published in February 2022 and she has published over 90 journal articles, book chapters and books.

About the series

The QUT Global Law, Science and Technology Seminar Series aims to bring together national and international speakers who will explore the personal, societal and governance dimensions of solving real world problems which are influenced by, and through the interactions of science, technology and the law.

The series will host speakers who think about ‘technology’ and ‘science’ as broadly construed to refer to methods of framing or interacting with the world, and that enable the critical and imaginative questioning of the technical, science, environmental and health dimensions of law and life.

Previous Seminars

Write A Comment