A new kind of artificial intelligence (AI) system has been developed by researchers at Oxford hospital that has the potential to save the lives of millions of heart and lung cancer patients. The system will be available to use this summer in NHS hospitals and will save the UK billions by detecting diseases much earlier on.
“There is about £2.2bn spent on pathology services in the NHS. You may be able to reduce that by 50%. AI may be the thing that saves the NHS,” says Sir John Bell, the government’s healthcare advisor. Misdiagnosis is a common error that happens in one in five of all cases. Using AI, doctors can diagnose patients much more accurately. It can detect things on scans that doctors may not be able to see.
“As cardiologists, we accept that we don’t always get it right at the moment,” said developer of the system, Professor Leeson. “But now there is a possibility that way may be able to do better.” Around £600m per year is spent on misdiagnoses in the UK. With this new system in place, experts are confident that could reduce by at least half.
The AI system is called Ultronics. It was trained using 1,000 different scans from patients Prof Leeson had treated previously. The information also revealed whether or not the patient went on to develop heart problems.
Another budding AI system that’s being used to detect disease early is being developed by Optellium. This one however looks for signs of lung cancer opposed to heart conditions. In recent trials it’s already proved to be more accurate at diagnosing patients than doctors. Dr Timor Kadir is the company’s chief science and technology officer and he confirmed that as many as 4,000 lung cancer patients could be diagnosed earlier each year using the AI.
“Rather than focus on cost savings, within a resource-constrained system such as the NHS, we’re really looking at how to offer better healthcare to more people for the same proportion of GDP,” says Dr Kadir. “This is the potential of AI in the UK.” Kadir also estimates savings could be made in excess of £10bn if rolled out across both the European Union and the United States. Are these two systems really capable of saving the NHS? Watch this space.