NHS and Artificial Intelligence


Abhinav Raj

Abhinav Raj, Writer


How the World’s Most Advanced Healthcare System is Leveraging AI

The English National Health Service (NHS) is a case study in how cutting-edge artificial intelligence tools can be harnessed by public health systems across the world to revolutionise the delivery of health and social care.

Since its conception in 1948, the National Health Service has provided healthcare to millions at the point of delivery and in the time of need, braving many challenges—from financial crises, epidemics, pandemics, and political turmoil. 

The resolve and the endeavour to fulfil its founding purpose of recognising the right to healthcare as a basic human right, however, remains strong. 

The public healthcare system in England, in its foreseeable future, faces many pressing challenges—ranging from an ageing population, changes in the political landscape and an uncertain economic climate, which beckon national attention. 

Addressing these challenges will not only require the best virtues of the people, but also the best technological tools at our disposal. Fortunately, advances in artificial intelligence technology can help the NHS overcome the many impediments in its way. Here is how the world’s most advanced healthcare system is setting a precedent in how to use AI for the public good. 

Artificial Intelligence in Diagnosis 

The National Health Service AI Lab has demonstrated its continued support in the research and innovation of artificial intelligence technology in rapid imaging and disease diagnosis since 2017, an effort that has enormously benefited the timely delivery of health and social care. 

This was best exemplified during the zenith of the COVID-19 pandemic in the year 2020. The National COVID-19 Chest Imaging Database (NCCID) was introduced as a part of the AI in Imaging programme at the NHS AI lab which has since enabled physicians and radiologists to collect and evaluate terabytes upon terabytes of chest imaging data efficiently and cost-effectively—thus saving many lives. 

The adoption of artificial intelligence in image diagnostics facilitates timely medical intervention by helping physicians determine the severity of the disease and yield accurate diagnoses and prognoses. 

NHS Digital and the NHS AI lab aim to further develop their AI medical imaging platform to empower researchers with a broader database, providing practitioners with a singular source of medical data for the nation. 

The National Strategy for AI in Health and Social Care

The National Strategy for AI in Health and Social Care is a comprehensive plan for the development of AI technology that is effective, safe, ethical and equitable. 

The NHS continues to fund artificially intelligent tools which have demonstrated potential to improve health and care outcomes.  

Till now, about eighty groundbreaking innovations have been the recipients of a £100 million award funding, a few of which include fully automated ultrasound tools that can screen for fetal growth restriction, wearable technology that can enable remote chest examination for respiratory patients, and algorithms that can diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults. 

Continuing their progress in the sphere of digital transformation, the NHS plans on fostering, funding and developing technologies that improve the quality of life for members of the public.