NHSX sets out plans to develop a National Strategy for AI in Health and Social Care

NHSX has laid out its vision, approach and areas of focus for developing a new National Strategy for AI in Health and Social Care.

The NHS AI Lab is currently working on a plan that will outline its ambitions for the ‘development, implementation, scaling and monitoring of AI-driven technologies’ in the UK.

The organisation has created a draft strategy to support the ultimate goal of deploying AI at scale, in an ‘effective’ and ‘ethical’ way. According to NHSX, its research will consist of three phases: research to understand the current digital health landscape; discussions with those who will use or feel the impact of the new technologies; and looking into possible ‘futures’ for AI.

A team of stakeholders, a selection of people involved in the development and deployment of AI in health, as well as potential users of the technologies, have formed a working group to help guide the development of the strategy. Members include Dr Hatim Abdulhussein, a General Practice Registrar and Clinical Lead to Digital, AI and Robotics in Education Programme at Health Education England, Emma Bradley, Deputy Head of Strategy for NHSX, and Linn Phipps, the NHSX Patient and Public Voice Partner.

Outlining its ambitions, NHSX and the NHS AI Lab says they plan to aim for a future where: citizens use AI-driven smartphone tests to monitor long-term conditions from home and send the results directly to their GPs; AI diagnostic tools will assist clinicians in identifying diseases and at-risk patients; AI will be used by public health officials to identify patterns local areas and highlight potential public health emergencies; hospital managers can use AI-driven management systems to see a real-time view of waiting times and bed capacity, to improve patient flow; and predictive AI tools will be used by local authorities to understand ‘current and future care needs’.

The NHS AI Lab says it will ‘support this future by enabling the development and adoption of safe, ethical and effective AI-driven technologies’ and by creating an ‘ecosystem that supports AI-driven technologies from inception to implementation, streamlining regulation, routes to market and supporting the health and care workforce to understand the benefits of AI and develop the skills to use it’.

The AI Lab has also shared the resources it has used to form its thinking and ideas so far, with a list provided that includes a series of papers and reports, such as the AI Council Roadmap, as well as a collection of videos where Indra Joshi, NHSX’s Director of AI, chats to other health tech and AI professionals.

Along with publishing its draft for health and care leaders to provide feedback on, via the NHS AI Lab Virtual Lab Hub, there is also a call for healthcare and health tech professionals to follow the page and the progression of the work, to join the hub to provide input, and to email the AI Lab at NHSX directly with comments and ideas, as part of an initiative to work openly and collaboratively with a ‘wide range of people’.

To find out more about the AI Lab’s Virtual Hub and the draft strategy, click here.