NHS to set up national AI lab

The NHS will be receiving a £250 million boost to develop a national artificial intelligence lab, the government has announced.

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock commented on the benefit of AI within the health sector, saying it has “enormous power” to save lives, improve care and make sure that doctors are getting to spend the time they need with patients.

A “step forwards”

Dr Simon Wallace, Chief clinical information officer at Nuance Communications, talks about the positive transformation that developing tech can bring to the UK’s health care system. He says: “This move – as part of additional investment in artificial intelligence from the NHS – is another step towards using disruptive technology to enhance patient care, by helping clinicians to focus on the most important cases and reduce the growing burdens of admin.”

He continues to discuss how robots are currently helping the NHS to make massive time and economic savings by saying: “AI is already supporting clinicians across NHS trusts, such as Homerton – which has deployed AI-enabled speech recognition to cut the turnaround time on clinical letters to patients following consultations. Reducing this turnaround time from 12-17 days to two – three – and at a saving of more than £150,000 per year in outsourced transcription costs – the Trust has benefited significantly from deploying such tech.”

Further values of AI

As well as having already shown improvements to hospitals during trials, AI has given an insight into the running of hospitals and how they can be used to optimise medicinal use and patient diagnosis.

Other places where AI will benefit the NHS will be through using algorithms in an advanced way that humans aren’t always able to do.  For example, through looking at medical scans, the robots can spot different types of cancer and eye conditions just as well as the leading doctors.

Justin Hall, Vice President and General Manager EMEA of health-based teach company, iRhythm, commented: “Today, intelligent tech can help doctors to monitor for many different kinds of conditions – such as irregular heart rhythms – and prescribe conditions such as arrhythmia. All without the requirement for traditional Holter monitors – which have proven to be clunky and uncomfortable for patients. Enabled by a deep learning algorithm, such tech can reduce numbers of patient appointments, improve detection and diagnoses and enable patients to maintain their normal day-to-day lives while monitoring for heart conditions – underlining why the NHS is investing more in this space.”

The future of AI in healthcare

It’s hoped that integrating robots into hospitals will be the continuation of machine-assisted care for humans on all levels.

“This is only the beginning for AI in healthcare. Tech such as ambient clinical intelligence has the ability to listen to physician-patient conversations and enable clinical documentation to draft itself during the consultation, turning natural language into coherent clinical records,” says Dr Wallace

Problems with AI

The new machinery is not completely disapproval free, however, with data privacy being a major concern for critics of the tech.

Another worry is that AI has been designed to be more  Caucasian-focused  than any other ethnic background. This fear comes as recent developments revealed that a lot of artificial intelligence has only been trained to be used on people of white descent.

This potentially means that a lot of people in society may not receive the care that they should, which is something that those designing AI to be used in the healthcare industry need to consider and work on.


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