Patients are set to get easier access to their medication lists and care plans through the NHS App under the government's new data strategy. New requirements for data sharing across the entire health and care system are also set to come into place, with new legislation to be introduced to require all adult social care providers to provide information about the services they fund. Published today (June 22), the NHSX draft strategy'Data Saves Lives: Reshaping health and social care with data', aims to capitalise on the work undertaken using data during the pandemic to improve health and care services. In a bid to establish openness, the government committed to publishing the first transparency statement setting out how health and care data has been used across the sector by 2022. Under the proposals, patients are set to gain more control over their health data, while data will also be used to improve care and treatment.
Patients will benefit from major improvements in technology to speed up the diagnosis of deadly diseases like cancer thanks to further investment in the use of artificial intelligence across the NHS. A £50 million funding boost will scale up the work of existing Digital Pathology and Imaging Artificial Intelligence Centres of Excellence, which were launched in 2018 to develop cutting-edge digital tools to improve the diagnosis of disease. The 3 centres set to receive a share of the funding, based in Coventry, Leeds and London, will deliver digital upgrades to pathology and imaging services across an additional 38 NHS trusts, benefiting 26.5 million patients across England. Pathology and imaging services, including radiology, play a crucial role in the diagnosis of diseases and the funding will lead to faster and more accurate diagnosis and more personalised treatments for patients, freeing up clinicians' time and ultimately saving lives. Technology is a force for good in our fight against the deadliest diseases – it can transform and save lives through faster diagnosis, free up clinicians to spend time with their patients and make every pound in the NHS go further.
Covid-19 has caused an unprecedented amount of uncertainty across the world, with businesses and people alike feeling the strain. However, amidst all of this uncertainty, one thing has remained constant and that is the unwavering efforts of those on the NHS frontline. While we have passed the peak of the pandemic in the UK, we must not forget the immense strain which the NHS has been put under. It is a testament to all of those working within the service that it has remained firm, saving countless lives in the process. Moving forwards, though, we must find a way to ease the burden on NHS workers.
Proximie is being deployed across a number of NHS sites, to support the national efforts to fight COVID-19. Proximie uses a combination of machine learning, artificial intelligence and augmented reality, aimed to empower surgeons and clinicians, to virtually and practically interact with each other from anywhere. The platform, which was founded by Dr. Nadine Hachach-Haram FRCS (Plast), BEM, consultant plastic surgeon and head of clinical innovation at Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, is being used across a host of NHS sites, as the country battles the pandemic. From enabling self-isolating clinicians to remotely support colleagues on the front line, to virtually connecting MDTs for hand trauma and cancer management, so that every clinician can connect and collaborate off site during COVID-19, the platform is being applied in a number of different ways to support and amplify frontline clinicians. Using augmented reality, healthcare practitioners can remotely interact in a procedure or assessment from start to finish, and mentor a local clinician through a live operation, in a visually and intuitive way.
An algorithm to predict which people may experience a mental health crisis has been trialled in the UK and found effective enough for routine use. A version that would track people's mobile phone calls, messages and location in a bid to improve accuracy is now being considered. Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust worked with Alpha, a division of Spanish telecomms firm Telefonica, which owns O2, to see if there was any benefit in automatically flagging the people thought most at risk of experiencing a mental health crisis to NHS staff. The results of the Predictive Analytics project, released under freedom of information rules, suggest there is. The project ran between November 2018 and May 2019.
Since its inception in February 2019, NHSX – the Government's new dedicated unit leading the NHS's digital transformation journey – has introduced a number of initiatives to improve IT strategies across the health sector. In summer, it announced it was investing £250m into Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. The investment is designed to help with some of healthcare's toughest challenges, including researching new treatments and supporting the NHS's time-strapped workforce. And, in October, it launched a centre of excellence platform, where healthcare providers can seek advice on securing the best deals with technology suppliers. These initiatives have put the NHS on track towards realising better outcomes from its ongoing digital transformation.
A YouGov poll of 1,027 healthcare professionals, commissioned by Sensyne Health, found that 81% support analysing patient data to enable quicker diagnosis and more effective treatments while 71% believe this analysis can help solve some of the greatest healthcare challenges in the UK, such as cardiovascular disease. However, just 12% of NHS staff and private healthcare workers said they would be comfortable with a multinational'big tech' company which pays little tax in the UK carrying the analysis out. Only 17% said they would trust multinational'big tech' companies to handle the data in a confidential manner. In comparison, 80% believe the UK should have a domestic capability in Artificial Intelligence and health data analysis so it doesn't need to be outsourced to other countries or multinational companies. More than eight in 10 (85%) say the NHS should receive a fair share of any financial gains made from subsequent medical discoveries, with 87% explicitly calling on the Government to step in and ensure that both the NHS and UK taxpayers benefit from discoveries and gains resulting from any analysis.
Björn Brinne added: "The report is correct that there are a number of urgent challenges that need to be addressed. Many deep learning projects to date have been focused on small pockets of research, which presents issues in relation to repeatability, auditability and scalability which are needed to make a global impact. Also, lack of skills, cost and complexity remain as barriers. "For the NHS, this is a major challenge as budgets and talent are already limited. "There's also the data issue – deploying deep learning models in the health sector requires retraining them when new data comes in, a complex and often costly task. "Additionally, to begin with, the quantity of data available will be limited and the quality of it inconsistent, which could lead to inaccuracies. There are also obvious challenges in the sensitivity of the data that is needed and requirements for consent." "In order to overcome these challenges, deep learning needs to move away from being used as a research tool, and instead become operationalised to make outputs more robust and usable. This will make deep learning accessible for a wider group of users in the medical industry, so that data pools become greater and more varied over time, improving model performance and, by extension, the quality and effectiveness of patient care."
The government will look to artificial intelligence (AI) to diagnose and treat long-term life-threatening conditions like cancer and Parkinson's with a financial package worth £133 million. Five Centres of Excellence, located in major cities across the UK, will use a £50 million fund to support existing work in digital pathology and imaging powered by AI. These facilities, which were established in November last year, can also partner with more NHS Trusts to design products based on the digital systems the centres are currently developing. The work predominantly involves improving the speed and accuracy of diagnostics as well as early intervention treatment. The centres themselves are based in Leeds, Oxford, Coventry, Glasgow and London.
Enthusiasts predicted the plan would relieve the pressure on hard-pressed GPs. Critics saw it as a sign of creeping privatisation and a data-protection disaster in waiting. Reactions to news last month that Amazon's voice-controlled digital assistant Alexa was to begin using NHS website information to answer health queries were many and varied. US-based healthcare tech analysts say the deal is just the latest of a series of recent moves that together reveal an audacious, long-term strategy on the part of Amazon. From its entry into the lucrative prescription drugs market and development of AI tools to analyse patient records, to Alexa apps that manage diabetes and data-driven experiments on how to cut medical bills, the $900bn global giant's determination to make the digital disruption of healthcare a central part of its future business model is becoming increasingly clear.