News, Secondary Care

Cambridge University Hospitals opens AI research to help diagnose mental health problems in children

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is to launch a new research programme to explore if it’s possible to use ‘powerful computer programmes’ to spot patterns in huge datasets, in order to recognise early signs and risks of children developing a serious mental health problem.

It’s hoped the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will help doctors make an earlier diagnosis of mental health problems in children, and help ensure patients can get access to help at a younger age.

The research programme will use AI to ‘scour datasets containing health information of children aged between 0-17’ to look for common trends, such as absence from school and pre-existing conditions.

The programme, which has received £295,000 from the Alan Turing (the national institute for data science and artificial intelligence), aims to have an AI model produced for a clinical research setting by the end of 2022.

Dr Anna Moore, child psychiatrist and leader of the programme, commented: “We are at the beginning of this exciting programme, gathering as much data as possible to take into account the whole child. This includes a wide range of information such as adverse childhood experiences, school attendance and attainment, risk concerns and other patterns of using support services.

“Children who have access to early help can see the severity of their mental health condition reduced and it also leads to better education and social outcomes for young people, as well as their families.”

In other health tech news, the trust recently signed a 5-year deal with clinical AI company, Sensyne Health, and partnered with US tech company GigXR to introduce hologram patients as part of mixed reality clinical training.

The trust also recently introduced video prescriptions of children talking about their chronic illnesses, with an aim to support other children living with the same condition.