Gov.UK recently published a speech by Baroness Blackwood in which she announced that the National Health Service (NHS) is currently involved in one of the most significant transformations in social care and digital health worldwide.
The network of connected care would allow specialists in various locations to simultaneously review a case. This would provide early diagnosis through continuous monitoring with the potential of slowing the progression of the disease.
The Baroness delivered her speech at the Festival of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Emerging Technology. The following overview captures the essence of her speech.
The NHS (and healthcare institutions in general) have not been designed to manage the increase in chronic disease. The NHS (and again healthcare in general) has become more patient-focused.
The emphasis has gone beyond attending to the illness. It now involves enabling the patient to become active in managing their disorder. A good example would be video consultations or even self-care packages for diabetics.
The overall goal is to be proactive rather than reactive. Spending more time educating people and encouraging good health habits translates into less time coping with illness.
Three long term goals are digital primary care, a redesign of outpatient care and embedding AI for diagnostics.
Tech advances in imaging and pathology are aimed at reducing manual reporting. This translates into more time for the staff to devote directly to patients during clinical visits.
The NHS is also examining ways to expedite the diagnoses of various diseases in order to improve the outcome for patients. That is a critical point as many patients experience progression in the disease while waiting for the diagnosis.
Baroness Blackwood mentioned her own experience as an example. After spending thirty years going to specialists, undergoing tests and seeing her primary care physician, she was finally diagnosed correctly.
Healthtech at the Health Center
Healthtech’s integration into the health center’s daily routine saves time during appointments. Patients are monitored more effectively 24/7 and doctors’ schedules are managed more efficiently.
General practitioners (GPs) will be able to monitor their patients’ beating heart from their office thanks to Ultromics UK and its AI. When the GP sees an irregularity he or she notifies the patient’s cardiologist who will give his diagnoses. The patient will then receive immediate care.
Ultromics is expanding its trials for coronary artery disease to the United States. One of its goals is to improve the current accuracy of echocardiogram tests now given by doctors at 80% to above 90%.
The first e-clinic was established in 2015. Consultant-led e-clinics have provided a new type of outpatient service giving faster access to the advice of specialists. The waiting time for patients to be seen at a renal clinic has now been reduced from 64 days to 5 days. Also, fifty percent of referrals have been managed without the need for a hospital appointment.
Memorial Sloan Kettering, New York
In the U.S. 766 cancer patients in a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering reported their chemotherapy side effects in real time through the use of an app. The hospital staff monitored the patients’ recovery and provided follow-up where needed. The nurses would be alerted immediately if the patient’s side effects became severe.
Another study involved patients who received chemotherapy for metastatic cancers. The patients who used the app survived on average five months longer than those who did not use the device. In addition, these patients had a better quality of life with less time in the emergency room or in the hospital.
AI for Drug Discovery
The researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research believe that both the speed and accuracy of drug discovery can be greatly improved by AI. An AI database has been created at the Institute called canSAR that is designed to discover future cancer treatments. CanSAR contains approximately five million experimental results making it the largest database of this type in the world. CanSAR is available to researchers anywhere in the world. It has already identified forty-six previously overlooked cancer proteins that could be targeted with existing drugs.