NHS launches £250m national AI lab

NHS ai
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The NHS is creating a multi-million pound 'AI lab' to investigate the use of technology in the health sector.

The £250m investment will be put towards bringing together the UK's top minds across the healthcare and technology industry, with the NHS promising research into a number of new fields and treatments.

Among the initial priorities for the new lab are personalised NHS screening and research into treatments for cancer, eye disease and a range of other conditions.

'Tech revolution'

The new AI Lab will sit within NHSX, the government's new body tasked with overseeing the digitsation of the UK's health system.

"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 personalised health and care service," Health Secretary Matt Hancock said announcing the launch.

"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."

The NHS hopes that utilising the benefits of AI and machine learning will transform certain treatments and processes within the service, cutting the number of missed appointments and freeing up staff time alongside helping save lives through more advanced treatemnt.

The latter could include improving cancer screening by speeding up the results of tests, including mammograms, brain scans, eye scans and heart monitoring, and using predictive models to better estimate future needs of beds, drugs, devices or surgeries.

It could also be used to identify patients most at risk of diseases such as heart disease or dementia, allowing for earlier diagnosis and cheaper, more focused, personalised prevention, as well as build systems to detect people at risk of post-operative complications, infections or requiring follow-up from clinicians, improving patient safety and reducing readmission rates.

Staff could also be trained to utilise AI systems to speed up paperwork and admin tasks such as scheduling, freeing up time for more patient care.

"Carefully targeted AI is now ready for practical application in health services, and the investment announced today is another step in the right direction to help the NHS become a world leader in using these important technologies," Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief Executive said.