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NHS Lothian to trial AI in emergency cardiac diagnosis


Mark Say Managing Editor

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A new digital health pathway using AI to support cardiac care is under development by NHS Lothian and its partners.

The health board is working on the AI for Acute Cardiac Care project with teams from the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, health research organisation Wellcome Leap and digital platform provider Lenus Health.

They have developed a model using the Lenus disease management platform that draws from multiple data sources, including the Data Loch trusted research environment for health and care data in the NHS East region of Scotland.

It will provide outputs on a real time clinical dashboard to which clinicians can refer when examining a patient to establish the most likely diagnosis and the pathway options, based on the risk of reattendance or major cardiac event. The insights provided by AI will also support routine care.

The approval process is underway for the first clinical trial at NHS Lothian, which will focus on the impact on reducing re-attendances within 30 days. This will provide evidence for the possibility of extending the service across other health boards using the Lenus platform, which currently cover 68% of Scotland’s population.

Quick evaluation

Lenus Health said there are around 7.5 million visits per year to emergency departments in the UK in which patients cite chest pain or severe breathlessness. Those arriving with these symptoms must be quickly evaluated for acute cardiac disease, but this is often challenging as it is often indistinguishable from benign conditions.

The new pathway is aimed at helping clinicians provide an accurate diagnosis at speed.

Nick Mills, British Heart Foundation professor of cardiology at the University of Edinburgh, said: “For patients with acute chest pain or breathlessness due to a heart attack or heart failure, early diagnosis and treatment saves lives. Unfortunately, many conditions cause these common symptoms, and the diagnosis is not always straight forward.

“Harnessing data and artificial intelligence to support clinical decisions has enormous potential to improve care for patients and efficiency in our busy emergency departments.”

NHS Lothian provides services for around 850,000 people, the second largest residential population in Scotland.

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