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Parliamentary committee weighs the potential of AI to transform the NHS

Published 18 January 2018

Science and Technology Committee examines usage of algorithms and AI in healthcare


The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has examined the usage of algorithms in healthcare with representatives from Google DeepMind and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

This session looked at how algorithms and AI are changing the nature of healthcare delivery. It also considered the ways in which the NHS can harness the value of its data without compromising on patient privacy and consent.

The committee highlighted how AI could be used by the NHS to target treatment by predicting which individuals or groups might be at risk of illness, to sending patients to the most appropriate services and to delivering better outcomes for patients.

There was a wider consensus for the need of an AI framework to boost innovation in healthcare. 

The committee discussed how much the algorithm is valued without the data highlighting the link between the two and the necessity for the NHS to further explore this relationship.

Dr Dominic King, senior staff research scientist and clinical lead, Google DeepMind Health, said, “Data is the lifeblood of these algorithms. We have with AI the opportunity to do something different, to put the development validation use and the impact of algorithms into the context of a robust evaluative framework. We will bring together multiple stakeholders. I think that data research UK is a national forum to do that”.

The committee also stressed the need for the NHS to become more paperless. King said, “We are making progress on this slow journey in becoming paperless. And I think it would only be of benefit to the practitioner who work in hospitals and currently spend over half of their time on administrative tasks, as well as patients getting frustrated for not having their data shared effectively and not been able to book appointment online”.

It also highlighted the importance for to the NHS to “get data right” to truly harness the potential of AI in healthcare; collecting and categorising data in the standardised format, increasing its quality and securely granting access to it.

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