NHS picks suppliers for £15m framework to support use of AI in stroke diagnosis

Buying vehicle put in place 16 months after tender process began

Credit: Liz West/CC BY 2.0

Five suppliers have been picked for a multimillion-pound framework to support the use of artificial intelligence in helping to diagnose and treat strokes.

The buying vehicle comes into effect on Friday for a term of four years and features five specialist technology providers: Aidoc; Behold AI; Brainomix; Ischemaview; and Viz AI.

About £15m is expected to be spent with the suppliers during the deal’s lifespan.

The framework aims to provide NHS entities with “a comprehensive… agreement for the supply of AI software in neuroscience for stroke decision-making support”.

According to the commercial documents: “The framework aims to provide a simple, effective, efficient and compliant route to purchase… through means of either direct call-off or further competition, if required.”

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The framework is managed by NHS Shared Business Services, a joint venture between the Department of Health Social Care and Sopra Steria that provides NHS bodies with services such as accounting and procurement support. Bidding for the contract took place in autumn 2020 but suppliers have only just been appointed, 16 months after a tender was issued.

The aim of the framework is to provide clinicians with technology that can supplement their diagnostic and treatment work – particularly in the immediate aftermath of a patient suffering a stroke.

“Stroke is an often debilitating or fatal clinical event,” the contract notice said. “However, if the stroke is analysed early and well using medical imaging, it is possible for clinicians to significantly improve outcomes for patients. This saves lives and improves people’s quality of life. However, getting these treatment decisions wrong can lead to further strokes and disability for patients. Stroke is one of the most time-critical conditions and may only be reliably diagnosed and treated following a brain scan; usually a CT scan or MRI scan. This framework aims to provide AI solutions that support the analysis of medical imaging for ischaemic or haemorrhagic strokes and to support clinicians diagnose and treat strokes faster and more reliably.”


Sam Trendall

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