Blog: The NHS and an Artificial Intelligence revolution

30th May 2019

Written by, Sadiya Zaib, Assistant Litigation Executive within Fletchers Solicitor’s Medical Negligence department.

The NHS is on the cusp of a technological revolution.

All over the world, innovation is shaping the future of industry and the NHS will be next in line to get involved.

The plan is for Artificial Intelligence to support the delivery of better care and better outcomes in the local system. 

The proposed:

  1. Interpreting radiological imaging such as mammograms, eye scans, CT scans, MRI scan and X-rays. This will mean that tests results will be received quicker, preventing delays in treatment. The hope is that intelligent systems used by the NHS will mean less chance of human error.

  2. Chat bots which will engage in conversations while analyzing text and voice. These apps will allow patients to chat with the app, get advice and get direct contact with the correct medical team. For example, it will pick up any mental health concern such as suicidal thoughts and make appropriate referrals quickly.

  3. Smart Speakers which will pick up doctor and patient conversation and update records which will allow doctors to focus on patients rather than medical records.

  4. Robots will be used for repetitive tasks in surgery.

  5. Analyzing genomics so that early prevention and management of late onset conditions can be recognised such as cancers, dementia, rare genetic conditions.

However, such intelligent systems will not be implemented absent of issues.

To implement all the artificial changes, the NHS firstly needs to digitally train all staff from Consultants to admin staff so that they can use these systems and keep up with the technological revolution.

Secondly, all patients will need to give consent, so their medical information can be used to make these systems more intelligent.

The less information stored the less intelligent the system will be, and the more information stored the more intelligent and sophisticated the system will be. 

In addition, the NHS will need to ensure that patients are aware who they are talking to, human or machine.

Whilst innovation may be fantastic for the majorities, ethnic minorities and people from poorer backgrounds that may not be receptible to intrusive change will mean that there is lack of digital record for them that has been fed into these systems, this will enhance inequalities and may mean that outcomes for everyone will not be accurate.

Therefore, the proposed, if implemented will prove beneficial, however the focus should be on educating everyone to take part in this technological revolution so that the NHS can achieve a system that will help all.

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