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DHSC provides new NHS Test Bed funds


Mark Say Managing Editor

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A group of projects using AI and other digital technologies have received financial backing from the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) under the second wave of the NHS Test Beds programme.

They will receive shares of £7 million – £5 million from the department and £2 million from the NHS – allocated to support the development of new technologies to improve patient outcomes.

DHSC said the projects are expected to help 500,000 patients access new treatments, provide £30 million in cost savings for the NHS and reinforce the UK’s prominent position in healthcare innovation.

Among the projects, it highlighted plans for the Nottingham University Hospital Trust to test an AI tool to help radiologists in more accurate screening for breast cancer. It will also test AI tools to streamline operational aspects of the service such as scheduling, and in the longer term could help the development of new models for the use of AI across the NHS.

It said the technology could help to deliver an improved service to 176,000 women annually by 2021 and save the NHS £1.3 million per year.

Marc Warner, chief executive officer of ASI Data Science, one of the innovator partners of the Test Bed, said: “This is about the nuts and bolts of how to run services as efficiently and smoothly as possible, helping the NHS to see and diagnose more people, more quickly, with the same resources – and helping to save lives.  

“We hope that the Test Bed will act as a proving ground, providing a template for other NHS trusts to take similar approaches. We think there's a huge opportunity for the NHS to lead the way in both clinical and non-clinical applications of AI.”

Diagnostics and apps

Another digital technology project – run by the Care City joint venture of the North East London NHS Foundation Trust and Barking & Dagenham Council – is for a plan to bring together market-ready diagnostics, smartphone apps and management tools to support patients with long term conditions. It involves junior members of the workforce encouraging other staff and patients in the use of the technologies.

Three other projects will focus on diabetes treatments: Greater Manchester Strategic Clinical Networks will test the MyDiabetesMyWay website to help people self-manage the condition; the South West London Health and Care Partnership will trial a mixture of products providing support; and North East Hampshire and Farnham Clinical Commissioning Group will use new digital tools alongside existing diabetes care to support lifestyle change.

In addition, Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust will use technology to give patients access to their health records and provide remote reporting of their status.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “The UK is a world leader in medical and health research and we want to make sure patients are the first to benefit from the tech revolution happening across the NHS.

“Every day, innovative new treatments are demonstrating the power technology has to save lives – and I want to make these opportunities available across the whole NHS.

“These programmes will fast track innovations from lab bench to patient bedside and help ensure that NHS patients continue to be the first to benefit from the life-changing treatments developed in this country.”

Image from iStock, Seksan Mongkhonkhamsao

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