Building a Healthcare Utopia: Inspiring concepts from the UK’s leading healthcare Providers


NHS, AI, NHS Hackathon, Heathcare

For 70 years the NHS has been responsible for transforming the health and wellbeing of the nation – even becoming the envy of the world, but to remain effective, it needs to change.

In a recent survey, 78% of patients said the digital customer experience in healthcare needs improvement, while 50% said they would leave their current doctor for a better digital experience. This comes as no surprise when we consider the rapid technology advancements across other sectors such as ecommerce which are contributing to rising patient expectations.

Growing patient expectations are already beginning to generate a wave of technological change across the industry as artificial intelligence and IoT begin to transform clinical decision-making, facilitate the development of advanced treatments and improve patient outcomes. But understanding how these technologies can help to address some of our biggest healthcare challenges can be difficult and that’s why we invited healthcare providers from across the UK to join us and Microsoft for our hugely anticipated Hackathon event.

Our hackathons present an amazing opportunity for attendees to come up with truly incredible and inspiring solutions to real world challenges and the best thing is that this isn’t your run of the mill IT event. We extended the invitation to clinicians, finance directors, surgeons, paramedics, nurses and porters to allow people who may not often work alongside each other to gather different perspectives and discuss solutions to revolutionise the future delivery of patient care.

NHS England, the General Medical Council, South Central Ambulance Service, North West Ambulance Service and Surrey & Boarders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust were amongst a few organisations who joined us at the event to tackle some of the biggest challenges seen across their organisations and some of their ideas blew us away. Let’s take a look at a few of the concepts they came up with.

Surrey & Boarders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust – AI infused virtual assistant designed to keep people fit and healthy to decrease hospital and GP visits

On average, every doctor’s appointment costs the NHS £30 while a single visit to A&E can cost £124 just to be seen. And if you’re unfortunate enough to need a trip in an ambulance to get there, that will cost the NHS a further £254. When you consider these costs alongside the fact it has been reported that 75% of patients referred to A&E don’t actually need to be there – you can see the enormous opportunity for the NHS to save these spiralling costs and reduce waiting times for the patients that really do need these appointments.

To address this growing issue, Surrey & Boarders NHS Trust came up with an innovative proactive healthcare virtual assistant to enable quick access to healthcare in the home around the clock in the hope of keeping people out of doctor’s surgeries and hospitals.

The solution would be integrated with a smart wearable device, monitoring heart rate, blood pressure, sleep patterns, activity, diet and mental health.

To provide accurate advice and support, the assistant would require access to existing NHS records, social media profile, location and data sharing permissions as well as links to social services and pharmacies.

The Trust also saw a need to improve communication back to patients. Using the insights gathered from their smart wearable device, patients could receive targeted interactive TV adverts, social media adverts, personalised emails and advice and support from voice activated devices such as Alexa.

The General Medical Council – Modern data platform to improve patient outcomes

The General Medical Council believe they could find a way to prevent fitness to practice issues through the better use of data across a doctor’s career pathway.

A medical professional is deemed 'fit to practise' when they have the skills, knowledge, character and health to practise their profession safely and effectively. But issues can arise when medical professionals breach data protection laws, have poor record keeping or ill health that compromises patient safety.

To help prevent this issue, the General Medical council’s vision is to create a modern data platform for the use of data from across a Doctors Career Pathway, improving patient outcomes in order to predict and prevent potential fitness practice issues.

To deliver this, they want to leverage cloud computing and cognitive services to provide a risk score for each doctor in order to improve patient care.

North West Ambulance Service – Using smart home technology to reduce the number of non-critical 999 calls from elderly, lonely individuals who don’t require life-saving care

In Britain today, loneliness is reaching epidemic levels. Traditional social support services have been cut, from day centres and lunch clubs to local buses, along with homecare and mental health services. There are fewer places to turn to – and as a result people are increasingly turning to 999.

While it is important these people get the support they need, their cases are often not life-threatening and don’t need immediate emergency attention although ambulances have an obligation to attend. To address this growing issue, the North West Ambulance Services’ came up with an innovative concept to ensure that paramedics are only dispatched to patient that need critical care while providing alternative care for less urgent situations.

The concept centred around using smart home technology and more specifically, IoT to place discrete sensors around an elderly person’s home to constantly monitor their health and wellbeing. These sensors would capture data such as temperature, movement and noise to build a pattern which could then be used to predict potential health hazards. When combined with wearable technology, the resident could also be reminded to take medication or to regularly move around after long periods of inactivity which could increase the risk of falls.

To reduce the number non-critical calls to 999, the North West Ambulance service suggested using ‘Alexa’ or google Home voice assistants to provide a remote clinical assessment service and chatbots to provide comfort and reassurance as well as monitor mood and mental health.

The running theme across the day seemed to be the collection and use of data. As data privacy becomes ever more critical – the need to capture patient data and share this in real-time with healthcare providers could aid in the early detection of critical healthcare conditions and could even go on to save lives.

The urgency to reduce A&E and GP visits and improve communication was also a focus, with many suggesting the NHS needs to take a more proactive, rather than reactive approach to healthcare.

The NHS is certainly moving in the right direction with many providers looking to embrace, AI, machine learning and IoT technologies. But the possibilities don’t end there. To discover the ways AI is set to impact healthcare in the future check out this blog 

Posted by Helen Thomas