Arden & GEM CSU leads tech projects to prevent endoscopy screening

NHS Arden & GEM Commissioning Support Unit is working in partnership with CorporateHealth International, NHS Highland and other partners on projects which could see a revolutionary shift in the prevention and early diagnosis of bowel cancer, as well as diagnosis of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

NHS Scotland is piloting capsule endoscopy – ingestible capsules that capture and wirelessly transmit images from the stomach and digestive system as patients go about their daily lives. Patients avoid the distress and discomfort of an invasive endoscopy and can simply swallow the capsule from the comfort of their own home.

To maximise the potential of capsule endoscopy, Innovate UK has awarded nearly £1.5million in funding to the partners to develop the use of artificial intelligence to review images captured through endoscopies. Arden & GEM is leading the evaluation of the pilot and automated screening, with a view to exploring how this new technology could be scaled to benefit more patients.

Wendy Lane, Director of Consultancy Service, Arden & GEM, explained: “We are playing a critical role in leading the evaluation and monitoring of the use of Capsule Endoscopy and automated screening to understand the impact on both patients and clinicians.”

“With the NHS Long Term Plan placing such an emphasis on the adoption of digital solutions, this is a fantastic opportunity to assess the roll-out and benefits of a radical innovation and fully capitalise on the learning from the initiative to ensure that the service can be replicated at scale across the UK. Most critically, we will be assessing ways to ensure that this digital technology can be sustained and integrated into new models of care and service delivery for patients.”

Over 750,000 colonoscopies are performed per year in England alone, and overall endoscopy demand has doubled in many UK centres over the last 5 years.

Arden & GEM is working with partners to test the latest approaches to automated image analysis, quantify the benefits to the patient, clinician and the NHS – financially and clinically – and make recommendations on implementation. The objective is to identify a robust and cost-effective solution to the significant increase in demand for image screening which could also make broader use of capsule endoscopy feasible.