NHSX's £250m AI Lab to develop 'practical' frontline treatments

The national centre will channel efforts into treating conditions like heart disease and cancer with smart tech

Image of a heart monitor trace on a digital background

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will establish a national artificial intelligence (AI) centre within NHSX to research and develop technologies to enhance patient care.

The new NHSX AI laboratory, launched in partnership with the Accelerated Access Collaborative, will get a 250 million injection to research practical AI tools to treat conditions like heart disease, dementia and cancer.

This centre is being established because the NHS has conventionally struggled with gaining insights from patient data, as well as the fact that data has not been effectively shared between systems and institutions.

"We've got to harness the very best technology, to make sure that we deliver care in the best way possible," said health secretary Matt Hancock.

"I want our AI lab to generate cutting-edge technology, to diagnose illnesses like sepsis, stroke and heart attacks before symptoms appear. It's amazing and it can be done.

"Genomic testing can predict which conditions we're susceptible to, and that means we can take preventative measures to stay healthier for longer. These are just some of the ways I want to see the tech revolution improving our health and care."

The NHS' latest foray into AI differs slightly from its past ventures, given it's entirely geared towards applying automation and AI-powered analytics in clinical settings.

This is against the majority of initiatives to date that have focused on automating back-office functions to create efficiencies, and therefore free up clinicians' time to focus more on healthcare.

Up to now, there have been a handful of highly promising AI initiatives in hospitals across England. This includes a partnership between Nvidia and King's College London to build an AI platform to automate radiology diagnostics.

Establishing an AI lab that sits within NHSX, however, aims to give AI projects across the health service a greater sense of coherence and national oversight.

The news also follows NHS England's chief executive Simon Stevens suggesting hospitals, from April 2020, will be financially rewarded for implementing successful AI projects.

"On AI in healthcare, we're the first to admit we don't have all the answers," NHSX said. "We want to work closely with people like the Open Data Institute and the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation who've thought deeply about what it means to use data-driven systems in a fair, respectful, transparent and accountable way."

NHSX also confirmed the AI Lab is "new money", after some confusion over the government's recent announcement of an additional 1.8 billion funding package for the NHS. After some analysis, it emerged this money was derived from cash savings that trusts were previously forced to make.

The organisation hopes this 250 million injection will future-proof technology across the health service. This has been lacking in the past, and is one of the main reasons why the NHS struggles with data interoperability.

"This move - as part of additional investment in artificial intelligence from the NHS - is another step towards using disruptive technology to enhance patient care," said chief clinical information officer with Nuance Communications Dr Simon Wallace.

"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."

The AI lab is among the first major forrays by NHSX since it was established by the health secretary in July to drive digital transformation across the health and social care service.

Featured Resources

Virtual desktops and apps for dummies

An easy guide to virtual desktop infrastructure, end-user computing, and more

Download now

The total economic impact of optimising and managing your hybrid multi-cloud

Cost savings and business benefits of accelerating the cloud journey

Download now

A buyer’s guide for cloud-based phone solutions

Finding the right phone system for your modern business

Download now

What’s next for the education sector?

A new learning experience

Download now

Recommended

Taming the machine: AI Governance
artificial intelligence (AI)

Taming the machine: AI Governance

29 Apr 2021
Panasonic finalizes deal to acquire supply chain firm Blue Yonder
Acquisition

Panasonic finalizes deal to acquire supply chain firm Blue Yonder

23 Apr 2021
10 keys to AI success in 2021
Whitepaper

10 keys to AI success in 2021

10 Mar 2021
MLOps 101: The foundation for your AI strategy
Whitepaper

MLOps 101: The foundation for your AI strategy

10 Mar 2021

Most Popular

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans
flexible working

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans

6 May 2021
Hackers use open source Microsoft dev platform to deliver trojans
Security

Hackers use open source Microsoft dev platform to deliver trojans

14 May 2021
How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD
operating systems

How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD

30 Apr 2021