Health Secretary for The United Kingdom, Matt Hancock has announced the Department of Health and Social Care will invest £250 million in an Artifical Intelligence (AI) Lab. The AI lab will form part of NHSX, a new branch of the National Health Service that will be responsible for the digitization of the health care system in collaboration with Accelerated Access Collaborative, “a fast-track route into the NHS for ‘breakthrough’ medicines and technologies.”
The NHS is turning to machine intelligence to combat some of the biggest challenges it is currently facing. Areas that
are in much need of this technological boost include better-personalized care, earlier cancer detection and more advanced dementia care.
The NHSX will utilize Artificial Intelligence to focus on the following aspects of the health care service:
- Administration tasks will become fully automated, allowing health care providers more time to spend with patients.
- The development of systems that are able to identify patients who are at risk of post-operative complications or infections, who require follow-up care from doctors, reducing the rate of readmissions and increasing patient safety.
- Detect which patients run the risk of future disease diagnoses like heart issues or dementia, allowing for earlier prevention treatments.
- Enhanced cancer screenings by hastening results.
- Recognize which patients would benefit from receiving treatment within the community, reducing the pressure on the NHS and providing care closer to patients home.
- Utilize predictive models, anticipating the NHS’s needs for medications, surgeries, and beds.
- Education for health care workers on how to use this new technology.
The health secretary spoke about the investment saying, “We are on the cusp of a huge health tech revolution that could transform patient experience by making the NHS a truly predictive, preventive and personalized health and care service. I am determined to bring the benefits of technology to patients and staff, so the impact of our NHS Long Term Plan and this immediate, multimillion-pound cash injection are felt by all. It’s part of our mission to make the NHS the best it can be. The experts tell us that because of our NHS and our tech talent, the UK could be the world leader in these advances in healthcare, so I’m determined to give the NHS the chance to be the world leader in saving lives through artificial intelligence and genomics.”
Although once revered as the world’s most advanced healthcare system, a 2017 global study on healthcare systems ranked the UK 30th in putting it behind countries like Spain, Slovenia and Italy. The report rated 192 countries in terms of their quality and access to healthcare. The UK scored particularly low in cancer care.
Besides money been put into the NHS, its debt has surged in recent years with a deficit of £960m reported in 2017/2018. The NHS has come under fire in recent years that not enough money is being spent where it is needed, in nurses and caregivers and in implementing new technologies. It is hoped that an investment in the AI Lab will help to develop technologies to streamline and automate tasks, improving efficiency and patient healthcare.