DigitalHealth.London partnered with Inspired Minds for the Intelligent Health 2022 UK conference on 6 and 7 of April and as part of this we hosted a challenge session entitled “How can we accelerate deployment of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to support the workforce?”.
I had the privilege of co-hosting the session with Haris Shauib, AI Transformation Lead at the AI Centre and Consultant Physicist and Head of Clinical Scientific Computing at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. The AI Centre is made up of leading AI, data science, research, and clinical experts and was established in February 2019 as part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The centre aims to create and train sophisticated AI algorithms from NHS medical images and patient data to provide tools for clinicians to speed up and improve diagnosis and care across several patient pathways including stroke, dementia, heart failure and cancer.
During the session, we heard from three DigitalHealth.London Accelerator companies and their NHS partners on how they are implementing AI to support the workforce in different organisations:
First up was Ufonia and we were joined by Dr Sarah Khavandi from the Ufonia team and Dr Eduardo Normando from their partners at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
Ufonia has built Dora – an artificial intelligence enabled autonomous clinical assistant. Dora is able to telephone patients and conduct a routine clinical conversation as an alternative to this needing to be done by healthcare staff. The product has been given UKCA/CE Mark approval, has been deployed in three NHS hospitals and surveyed patients have said they are highly likely to recommend the system. The team are conducting further clinical studies in the UK and are establishing international partnerships to evaluate Dora.
Karine Deville, Market Access Manager at French company Cibiltech was joined by Dr Sunil Daga from The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to talk about the implementation of their AI-based solution.
Predigraft, created by Cibiltech, is a web-based software and a medical device CE-marked as a Class IIa under the new regulation (MDR). It embeds the iBox AI-based algorithm that predicts individual long-term kidney allograft survival to ultimately prolong graft lifetime and avoid return to dialysis.
Cibiltech and The Leeds Teaching Hospital were connected in March 2021 through the NIHR signposting service. They performed a retrospective validation in December before starting the technical integration from July 2021 – this is due to finish in July 2022. As a foreign company, it was vital for Cibiltech to gather information from different sources to launch their product in the UK including through networks such as the AHSNs, NICE, NIHR and DigitalHealth.London, as well as talking to their end users in the NHS.
They shared their six key criteria for success:
- Contact IT for seamless integration into existing workflow: interoperability
- Good communication between the different teams involved
- Good understanding of Trusts processes and if possible, IT infrastructures
- Anticipate all legal and regulatory requirements (medical device and data)
- Access to structured data
- Project management
The final presentation came from Dr Ross Harper, the CEO at Limbic and Dan Brown, the Clinical Lead at Mind Matters NHS Talking Therapies.
Limbic has developed a web-based AI-chatbot (Limbic Access) specifically for NHS primary specialist care for mental illness – the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. The software integrates with service websites by pasting in just two lines of code, and is capable of screening referrals, collecting patient information, and improving accessibility to mental health support.
Mind Matters partnered with Limbic to create a more engaging user experience, reduce staff admin time, improve clinical assessments and free up clinical hours and improve service accessibility.
What the audience said…
The audience took part in an online survey during the session and shared their thoughts on what they would like to see from the NHS, industry and central government when it comes to adopting AI.
Participants wanted to see an increase in the involvement of industry in hospitals as well as a joining up between hospitals and the community. One participant shared that they would like to see more excitement around AI in the NHS and a bigger focus on sharing information about it. A focus on increasing health equity, clinical credibility and a need for transparency was flagged as important for industry, while for central government the main themes were provision of funding, regulation and infrastructure.
When asked who should pay for the adoption and testing of early-stage technology whose benefit isn’t proven,66.7% of participants felt this should be self-funded by the innovator or supplier, 33.3% thought this should come from central government and no respondents thought healthcare institution should be the ones to pay.
The panel and audience took part in a lively discussion about what digital innovators and the NHS can do to accelerate digital transformation and implement AI which genuinely helps the workforce.
I think the key consensus from the three presentations and from the audience, was that to accelerate the deployment of AI to support the workforce, we need to reach a point where the tools are acceptable to patients. Patients need to be happy to use tools like an AI chatbot or AI-led phone conversation and understand how it will speed up access to healthcare – only then can AI make a real difference to the workforce.
Ross from Limbic summed up the discussion brilliantly: “The session was a great illustration of the interest and appetite for AI within the NHS. The most exciting aspect for me was the active Q&A between speakers and audience. The room discussed how to leverage patient data in a safe way, and there was a strong consensus that providers of patient management systems/EHRs have a moral imperative to enable integration and promote innovation within healthcare. Indeed, if AI relies on data, then we as a community must build processes to safely unlock data. What is absolutely clear from the session is that we are entering a new era of digital in healthcare. It is a fallacy that the NHS is unprepared and unwilling to embrace the benefits of new technology.”
DigitalHealth.London is delighted to publish blogs by the NHS staff and digital health companies we support through our programmes, as well as sector thought-leaders, experts and academics. Any opinions expressed within blogs published on our website are those of the author and not necessarily held by DigitalHealth.London. For more information, or if you would like to write a blog for our website, please email info@digitalHealth.london.
Ufonia, Cibiltech and Limbic are currently on the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme. The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is a collaborative programme funded by London’s three Academic Health Science Networks – UCL Partners, Imperial College Health Partners, and the Health Innovation Network, MedCity, CW+ and receives match funding from the European Regional Development Fund.