Solomon Center and ISP Cohost Health Law and Technology Conference

<p>Solomon Center Student Fellow Nicholas Oo ‘20 poses questions to the keynote panel at the November 2, 2018 roundtable “The Law and Policy of AI, Robotics, and Telemedicine in Health Care.”</p>

On November 2, 2018, the Information Society Project (ISP) and the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School cohosted a cutting-edge interdisciplinary roundtable exploring “The Law and Policy of AI, Robotics, and Telemedicine in Health Care.” The conference brought together 30 leading academics, lawyers, physicians, policy makers, and health technology entrepreneurs to explore how novel technologies are revolutionizing health care, reshaping what it means to practice medicine, challenging existing regulatory schemes, and informing norms about patient information, data, and privacy. The event attracted an audience of more than 150 guests and featured five panel discussions.

“The expanding use of these novel technologies implicates every aspect of health law — from medical malpractice and the doctor-patient relationship, to informed consent, to FDA law, to health justice,” said Professor Abbe R. Gluck ‘00, Solomon Center Faculty Director. “It was wonderful to partner with ISP to bring together so many different experts to think creatively, provocatively and pragmatically about the challenges and benefits that may lie ahead.”

The morning’s panel discussions began with an exploration of “The Need for New Regulation: Privacy Law, the FDA, and Beyond.” The panel, moderated by Gluck, involved a vigorous discussion of the novel regulatory concerns that innovative technologies present, how regulators like the FDA are responding in an effort to keep up, and how regulators respond to protect patients adequately while promoting innovation avoiding antitrust pitfalls. Panelist Nathan Cortez, Professor of Law at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, warned that “The FDA is doing very little to keep products off the market, and the quality of these products varies tremendously…Some of this looks like the dietary supplement market, which is full of products that don’t do what they say they do, some of which are dangerous. So the balance here is finding a system that lets in the good apples but doesn’t let the bad apples slide through.”

The second panel, “Big Data in Health Care: Challenges, Biases, and Benefits,” was moderated by Professor Jack Balkin, Faculty Director of the Information Society Project and Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment. Concern about the inability to obtain informed consent from patients in the era of big-data pervaded the discussion. The conversation also shed light on the inadequacies of existing anti-discrimination law to protect Americans against discrimination on the basis of predictions likely future disease or disability — predictions which are not only possible but already being used for discriminatory purposes.

A midday keynote panel brought together health care entrepreneurs, investors, practitioners, and insurers who discussed their real-world experiences implementing novel technologies. Panelists included leaders at Google, UnitedHealth Group, and two early-stage companies or organizations developing artificial intelligence-based health products and services. The panel addressed the challenges of investing in innovation in a shifting regulatory and reimbursement environment, the imperative to keep the patient at the center of innovation, and the challenges establishing and maintaining the trust of patients, providers, and payors in technologies that often cannot be fully defined or explained.

Solomon Center Executive Director Katherine Kraschel moderated the fourth panel of the day, “Expanding Care to New Populations: The Promises and Perils of New Technologies.” The discussion ranged from legal and practical barriers to the implementation of a nationwide telemedicine system to the risks and realities of social media companies using AI for suicide prediction. Throughout the conversation, participants grappled with the overarching question of how new technologies can be applied in a manner that balances access, quality, and cost, so as to prevent further gentrification of the health care system.

Formal proceedings concluded with a final panel on “AI, Robotics, and the Practice of Medicine” which focused first on how the proliferation of AI and robots in health care settings is affecting the day-to-day interactions between patients, providers, and payors, and, second, on whether and how the legal system should regulate medical practice differently with the advent of AI and robotics. The conversation ranged from legal problems surrounding the allocation of malpractice liability among AI developers, physicians and medical centers, to ethical quandaries such as how we make sure that patient trust is not manipulated through the use of social design in anthropomorphized robots.

The roundtable was made possible with the support of the Oscar M. Reubhausen Fund at Yale Law School. A full list of panelists more details about the roundtable are available on the Solomon Center website.

In the lead-up to the roundtable, the legal blog Balkinization hosted a blog symposium featuring panelists’ reflections on some of the hottest topics in the field.

An unprecedented joint issue of the Yale Journal of Law and Technology and the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics to be released in the spring will feature articles by seven of the conference panelists inspired by the discussions at the roundtable. More information will be available at in the spring of 2019.