Trusted & trustworthy

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

Our ethical principles

On acting ethically

In the effort to make it clear what it means to Koa Health to act ethically (in our pursuit of mental health for all), we’re sharing our principles below.

Learn about our principles in more detail.

Improving your health and happiness
Putting you in control
Being understandable and transparent
Securing your data
Being accountable

Our approach to ethics

Ethics is intrinsic to issues of health and healthy behaviors. This is especially true when providing advice on what to do. Because even as we ensure that our recommendations are as evidenced-based as possible, there will be occasions where it will not be obvious what the "right" answer is.

This is not because the evidence is wrong, but because people can have competing priorities, for example getting extra sleep vs. rising early to squeeze in some exercise before work.

Find out more about our approach.

Lessons learned

On evolving and learning in ethics and beyond

Koa Health has been developing our ethics strategy since 2016. During that time we’ve developed and tested a range of ideas, undergone two external ethics audits, and have already experienced a few challenges. Four are highlighted in this section.

Find out more about our learnings.

Principles can conflict.

We saw this acutely during the audit of a prototype app. Our focus on privacy was so strong that we had no direct data to draw on to understand if our recommendation algorithm might be biased. This demonstrated to us that early consideration of potential conflict between ethical principles is essential.

To a certain extent, delivery is all or nothing.

It’s not possible to be 60% or 80% ethical; in setting out multiple ethical principles we must address all of them at the same time. This is obviously true of our approach to understandability and transparency, two principles that are intrinsically linked.

Balancing realism and ambition is challenging.

While we want to be ambitious, we also want to be realistic. To strike the right balance, our commitments are a mix of ideas that are currently implementable alongside more challenging initiatives that will require further research and substantial effort to deliver.

There’s still so much to learn

Thus far, no society has developed a set of norms to ensure technology’s optimum functionality for everyone. With so much that remains unknown in the application of digital technology and machine learning to health, we’re sure we’ll need to evolve our approach as we experiment and learn.