California attorney general probes hospital CEOs about racial bias in algorithms

California is investigating whether software that helps health systems carry out tasks such as patient diagnostics discriminates against racial and ethnic minorities.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta sent letters to 30 hospital CEOs on Aug. 31 asking them for data on "decision making tools, products, software systems and algorithms used in operations including triage, billing and operating room scheduling."

In the letter, Mr. Bonta also requested hospital CEOs to detail the purposes for which these tools are currently used, how these tools inform decisions and any policies, procedures, training or protocols that apply to use of these tools.

Hospital CEOs are also being asked to name the individuals responsible for evaluating the purpose and use of these tools. 

According to Mr. Bonta, this is California's first step in assessing if commercial algorithms used by providers to make decisions regarding patients' healthcare access results in impartial treatment. 

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