The UK health secretary Matt Hancock has announced £250m
to be put forward for a new National Artificial Intelligence Lab, aimed at
improving the healthcare system in the country.
The lab would bring the industry’s finest academics,
specialists, and tech firms to tackle some of the biggest challenges in
healthcare, which includes cancer detection, dementia treatments, and more
personalised care. The investment would back the NHS Long Term Plan under which
AI will be used to assist clinicians to remove variations in care. The lab will
come under the purview of NHSX — which manages digitisation of the entire
healthcare system – together with the Accelerated Access Collaborative.
“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,” said Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS
“In the first instance it should help personalise NHS
screening and treatments for cancer, eye disease and a range of other
conditions, as well as freeing up staff time, and our new NHS AI Lab will
ensure the benefits of NHS data and innovation are fully harnessed for patients
in this country,” Stevens added.
In early July, the NHS announced a partnership with Amazon
to offer reliable health information from the healthcare body’s website by
means of voice-assisted technology Alexa, which has the potential to mitigate
the pressure on the NHS and General Practitioners by providing information for
Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX, said at the
time: “The public need to be able to get reliable information about their
health easily and in ways they actually use. By working closely with Amazon and
other tech companies, big and small, we can ensure that the millions of users
looking for health information every day can get simple, validated advice at
the touch of a button or voice command.”
Not all stakeholders appear to be happy about the recent developments, however. A GP based in Hampshire wrote to The Registerthis week arguing the AI lab proposal was ‘just another sound bite.’
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