AI to make presence felt at British hospitals, but won't replace doctors just yet

AI to make presence felt at British hospitals, but won't replace doctors just yet
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22 May, 2018

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, one of Britain’s biggest health trusts, has partnered The Alan Turing Institute, a body that collects AI expertise of British universities, to automate tasks ranging from reading CT scans for cancer to prioritising patients at the emergency department, The Guardian reported. NHS is England's National Health Service. It is a health service that everybody in the UK can use.

“Machines will never replace doctors, but the use of data, expertise and technology can radically change how we manage our services – for the better,” Professor Marcel Levi, chief executive of University College London Hospitals, was quoted as saying.

According to the report, the two bodies have signed an artificial-intelligence agreement for three years.

“It’s going to be a game-changer,” Professor Bryan Williams, director of research at University College London Hospitals, was quoted as saying. 

“You can go on your phone and book an airline ticket, decide what movies you’re going to watch or order a pizza … it’s all about AI. On the NHS, we’re nowhere near sophisticated enough. We’re still sending letters out, which is extraordinary,” said Williams.

The report said that, under the partnership, the first project will look at improving standards and wait times at the emergency department.

“Our performance this year has fallen short of the four-hour wait, which is no reflection on the dedication and commitment of our staff,” Levi was quoted as saying. “It’s an indicator of some of the other things being wrong,” Levi said.

The machine-learning algorithm will be able to cross-check patient history and condition at the emergency department to determine his/her priority for treatment.

The report also said that a second project which looks at patients who will likely fail to keep appointments is being worked upon. A neurologist from the hospital, Parashkev Nachev, told the newspaper that the hospital and the institute were looking at a variety of data sets such as age, weather, and gender to determine which patients are likely to skip appointment for scans or scheduled appointments. He added that the next phase of this project will include reminding patients, among other things.

“We’re going to test how well it goes,” Williams was quoted as saying. “Companies use this stuff to predict human behaviour all the time.”