Secondary Care

Barts Health uses AI to scan 14.2 million documents to identify patients with diabetic foot disease

Barts Health NHS Trust has utilised AI technology to scan 14.2 million documents to find and identify patients with diabetic foot disease.

The analysis of the documents aimed to find patients, who otherwise might have been unknown, and therefore enable the trust to focus its resources on a particular cohort. The programme identified 61,756 patients with diabetes and, of these, 3,119 patients with DFD.

The technology from Clinithink uses articifical intelligence tools to find meaning in unstructured medical notes and documents. The company notes the tool can recognise idioms, metaphors, turns of phrase, and for example all 72 different ways of saying ‘fractured left neck of femur’.

It then helps to understand and extrapolate from the mass to provide insight, and at Barts, has been used to identify patients with diabetic foot disease. The next stage of the programme will explore whether the tool can be used to predict those patients who are most likely to develop severe complications associated with the disease.

Barts Health said to preform the task manually it could have taken over 100 years: “Attempting this scale of analysis manually would have been frankly impossible,” said Dr Charles Gutteridge, Chief Clinical Information Officer at Barts Health.

Dr Gutteridge continued: “Theoretically it would have taken one clinician over a hundred years to review that volume of documents. So not only does AI technology help us find patients who we couldn’t otherwise find, it also saves precious clinical time. This is a first and most important step in being able to treat many patients earlier than would have been possible using a manual process to find them and preventing the serious complications that may result in amputation.”

Mr Sandip Sarkar, Consultant Vascular Surgeon at Barts Health, added: “Using this advanced AI technology, we are very excited about the possibility of being able to predict which patients are most likely to experience the worst consequences of DFD.

“This will enable us to focus our precious clinical resource on those patients likely to benefit most from early intervention, which will also reduce the burden on hard-pressed acute services. This is how we need to manage chronic disease in the post-Covid era.”