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Life Sciences Q3 2021

AI will boost healthcare and life sciences

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Dr Indra Joshi

Director of AI, NHSX

AI has the power to transform the country’s diagnostic infrastructure and drastically increase the health and care system’s efficiency – improving the quality and speed of care – as well as fostering a vibrant life sciences ecosystem.

The benefits that artificial intelligence (AI) promises to bring to health and social care are starting to show real, tangible benefits in hospitals, care facilities and at home. At NHSX, we are supporting AI technologies like those used for analysing strokes from brain scans, which have improved the speed of treatment for patients. For example, patient pathways in the Sussex stroke network have been adapted to maximise the improved time to treatment that the technology now provides.

At Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, waiting times for an electrocardiogram (ECG) test were reduced from six weeks to zero after the introduction of a wear-at-home AI device. Weeks of data from an AI-enabled heart rhythm monitor is being analysed in minutes by a combination of AI and cardiac technicians, without the traditional 24 hours of monitoring at hospital. Patients experiencing heart palpitations or fainting can wear the device at home, saving the time of repeat testing, lessening the inconvenience of hospital-stays for patients and improving the speed of treatment. 

AI has the power to transform the country’s diagnostic infrastructure and drastically increase the health and care system’s efficiency.

Supporting safe innovation

It is the role of the NHS and the wider healthcare sector to ensure that innovation like this can continue at pace, bringing maximum benefit to patients. It is also our role to ensure it is done safely, with rigorous testing and robust evaluation to ensure the technologies that get approved are implemented safely and ethically across the whole population.

Nurturing the cutting-edge companies of tomorrow

As highlighted in the Government’s Life Sciences Vision, the UK needs to foster the “right business environment” so that companies can “manufacture and commercialise their products” and people can benefit from the best innovations in health and care. Key to this is being able to access the finance to foster these innovations, which is why the NHS AI Lab at NHSX in partnership with the Accelerated Access Collaborative has developed a grant fund to foster AI innovation that meet the needs of the NHS Long Term Plan. 

Providing £140 million over four years, we have supported 80 innovations with the AI in Health and Care Award so far and are looking forward to seeing many more of these innovations implemented into clinical use in the NHS, modernising healthcare and improving lives. 

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