NHSX to set up £250m AI Lab

Written by Sam Trendall on 9 August 2019 in News
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Health secretary announces funding for new technology

Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images

The government is to create a £250m national centre to lead the use of artificial intelligence across the NHS.

The AI Lab will be house in NHSX, the organisation set up earlier this year to lead technology and data policy across the health service. The lab will explore the use of AI in a number of areas, including the automation of administrative tasks. 

It will also examine how AI could help predict need and plan the deployment of resources, as well as helping work out which patients would require hospital treatment and which could be offer community healthcare services.


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Clinical uses of artificial intelligence could include its use in cancer screening, and the technology could also be used to better predict which patients will be most at risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and dementia, as well as those who have a comparatively higher probability of post-operative complications.

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said that the initial work of the lab should focus on how best to “personalise NHS screening and treatments for cancer, eye disease and a range of other conditions”. 

“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,” he said.

The creation of NHSX was announced in February by health and social care secretary Matt Hancock. The organisation – which, effectively, sits above NHS Digital – has assumed responsibility for setting digital, data, and technology policy across the healthcare system, as well as developing and maintaining common standards. 

Hancock said: “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. I am determined to bring the benefits of technology to patients and staff, so the impact of our NHS Long Term Plan and this immediate, multimillion-pound cash injection are felt by all. It’s part of our mission to make the NHS the best it can be.”

He added: “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.”

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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