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Bradford Teaching Hospitals appoints AI chief


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has appointed a head of clinical artificial intelligence.

In what is believed to be a first move its kind for an NHS Trust, Dr Tom Lawton (pictured) has taken up the post with a brief of developing ways of using AI safely and effectively.

It reflects the increasing interest in exploiting AI within the health service. Earlier this year the Topol Review called for the appointment of more AI specialists in the NHS, and the Department for Health and Social Care published a code for the use of the technology in the NHS.

Lawton has previously been one of the trust’s medical informatics offices and is a member of the team at the Bradford Institute of Healthy Research.

He emphasised the importance of clinicians having a greater say in how AI can support frontline healthcare services.

“This new role will see me acting as a much needed link between the innovators in the AI labs across the world, home grown digital talent in the universities of Bradford, Leeds and York, and our own clinicians,” he said.

“Their expertise and first hand insight is pivotal to making the most of the opportunities in front of us.

“This means AI delivering solutions to real life issues facing our wards and departments. Too often, I’ve seen a system that is brimming with world class technology in the lab, but which isn’t fit-for-purpose in a hospital setting because those behind it hadn’t engaged with clinicians.”

Labs to wards

He said there is a need for a better translation of technology from the labs to hospital wards. This will involve drawing on clinicians’ experience to pinpoint needs then working with AI specialists to design solutions.

Among the possibilities he highlighted is to use AI in speeding up the assessment and treatment of A&E patients, predicting the length of stay in hospital when patients are admitted, and combining with cloud technology for the analysis of large quantities of data.

“The huge datasets that have been built up through the Connecting Bradford and Born in Bradford research projects are a powerful resource at our fingertips that that can help shape ways in which AI can make a real difference,” Lawton said.

Image from Bradford Teaching Hospitals Trust

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