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NHS Trust to test AI system for patient appointments


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Image source: Kutyaev

Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust is to run a trial of AI software in predicting likely missed appointments and offering back-up bookings to patients.

NHS England has highlighted the trial, which uses a software created by AI specialist Deep Medical and will be extended to five other trusts during this year.

The system uses algorithms, anonymised data and external factors such as weather, traffic and jobs to break down reasons why a patient may not be able to attend an appointment. It then arranges appointments for the most convenient time for patients – such as in evening and weekend slots for those less able to take time off during the day – and implements intelligent back-up bookings to reduce the clinical time is lost.

The software was co-designed by Deep Medical with a frontline worker and NHS clinical fellow.

NHS England said that when used at full scale the system could make it possible for the Mid and South Essex Trust to see an additional 80,000-100,000 patients per year.

It is estimated that there are eight million missed hospital appointments each year in England with an annual cost of around £1.2 billion.

Testing tech advances

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “The NHS has been at the forefront of innovation for almost 75 years, adopting the latest technologies and treatments to ensure patients have the best possible experience.

“This new pilot is no different – it shows the NHS testing the latest technological advancements to address the real world challenges we face. The system will help ensure patients receive ‘smart’ appointments, that are convenient and fit into people’s increasingly busy lives.

“It is a win-win for patients and the NHS alike – it will help us to free up doctors’ time to treat more patients, save taxpayers’ money as well as helping to reduce waiting times.”

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