Report highlights how AI can boost NHS efficiency

A new report published by the Reform think tank has illustrated the areas where artificial intelligence (AI) could help the NHS.

A series of 16 recommendations have been made demonstrating how the NHS can become more efficient and deliver better outcomes for patients. The report also highlights the main barriers to the implementation of this technology and suggests some potential solutions.

 

Efficiency

The report says that, despite the hype around AI in healthcare, examples of it being implemented and deployed in the NHS are sparse. However, it could help address the health and wellbeing gap by predicting which individuals or groups of individuals are at risk of illness and allow the NHS to target treatment more effectively towards them.

The reduction of the care and quality gap could also be supported by AI tools as they can give all health professionals and patients access to cutting edge diagnostics and treatment tailored to individual need. AI could help address the efficiency and funding gap by automating tasks, triaging patients to the most appropriate services and allowing them to self-care.

 

Getting data right

The NHS will also need to get data right to truly harness the potential of AI in healthcare, the report’s authors say. This means collecting the right type of data in the right format, increasing its quality and securely granting access to it.

The healthcare system is still heavily reliant on paper files and most of its IT systems are not based on open-standards. This limits the exchange of information across the health system. Increasing the quality of the data collected within the NHS is of crucial importance as the accuracy and fairness of AI algorithms are wholly dependent on the data they are being fed.

Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee chair Norman Lamb said, “We are on the brink of a major transformation in the way we diagnose, treat, and even prevent ill health. Whether it is wearable devices, AI surgical robots, or AI algorithms that can detect certain conditions with unprecedented speed and accuracy, these advances have the potential to propel the health and social care system into the 21st century – improving care both in the hospital and at home, and making much more efficient use of resources.”

“There is still more to do for AI to win the hearts of all healthcare professionals, and these are just some of the issues that will occupy policymakers in the years ahead.

“Infrastructure for collecting, sharing and accessing data need to be improved. Resolving the ethical questions surrounding AI in healthcare settings will be crucial, including setting the right regulatory framework.”

The full report can be downloaded here.

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