NHS establishes AI lab to improve healthcare

The National Health Service of the United Kingdom looks to AI for the future of healthcare

The Conservative government, under new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has earmarked £250 million in funding for the new National Artifical Intelligence Lab, which will use the sophisticated technology to research and develop “cutting edge treatments for cancer, dementia and heart disease”.

In a move likely to be welcomed by all, no matter their political affiliation, Prime Minister Johnson said that not only will the funding be used to look at diagnosis and treatment, but “it will also boost the frontline by automating admin tasks and freeing up staff to care for patients.”

The announcement follows the news of a £1.8 billion injection to rebuilding and renovating existing hospitals. However, some have concerns that artificial intelligence will require extensive training, citing previous forays into healthcare digitisation as disastrous and ill-thought-out.

The benefits of using AI in healthcare are plain to see. A sophisticated artificial intelligence, which thrives on a strong data set, will eventually be able to diagnose ailments quicker than a human with decades of experience.

Artificial intelligence is already being used in drug discovery. Companies like Benevolent AI are making strides with research into “incurable” diseases such as ALS.

Putting together the data set on which the AI will draw from will not be easy. The NHS is known for its outdated IT systems. The service is also a long way off achieving its Paperless 2020 goal. This laboured digitisation will present difficulties for the integration of the proposed National Artificial Intelligence Lab, but it is a push in the right direction for the NHS, which has endured years of funding cuts.

Artificial intelligence has the ability to positively change the healthcare sector. It presents limitless possibilities in drug discovery, research and treatment, which could otherwise take years.

Luke Conrad

Technology & Marketing Enthusiast