NHS needs to put more trust in AI, digital technology, says Think Tank

Think Tank Reform does not believe the NHS is reaching the full benefit of using AI by relying on old systems, a new report reveals.

The latest report from the think tank, ‘Thinking on its own: AI in the NHS’, argues that the NHS has the power to send the organisation well on its way to achieving its digital goals including better, more targeted treatments, increased access to the latest medicine and diagnostics by embracing AI technology.

However, the report explains that the use of AI in the NHS so far is somewhat of a ‘piecemeal’ arguing that there has only been a small realisation of benefits from the organisation. Therefore, with this in mind, the think tank is urging the NHS to do more to take on AI so that it does not miss out on any more benefits.

Reform believes one of the best ways to implement AI within the NHS is by partnering with businesses from the private sector to gain the expertise as well as the technology.

The report encourages the use of AI by recommending the NHS to improve public trust and confidence of the technology as well as ensuring the ethics side of the technology are covered, with the latter being crucial following the track record of patient data sharing from the NHS.

NHS needs to put more trust in AI, digital technology, says Think Tank

NHS are being urged to move away from paper systems.

Another area recommended to improve is for the NHS to move away from its paper-based system that it has operated through for years and instead trusting that technology can do the same job at the same level of quality it not better. Updating the paper-based systems and other IT systems across the NHS is ever more important than before, according to Reform, after this was the primary area of blame for the cause of the WannaCry attack.

“The continued use of paper records in hospitals and the inability of IT systems to communicate with each other limit the NHS’s ability to collect and easily link data,” Reform’s report stated.

Despite the criticism from the think tank that the NHS hasn’t optimised it’s digital capabilities as much as expected, the organisation has delivered digital services to three million people in the UK as of December last year.

The report explains that it is not all down to investing and installing the latest technology within AI, but educating the staff within the organisation. A lot of conversations around AI in any workplace is the matter of workers being replaced when in actual fact it is quite far from the best option for any business.

Although diagnosises can sometimes be made much quicker with the use of AI, it is about training staff to work alongside the technology to get the best of both worlds and turn their attitudes into a positive thinking to embrace the technology.

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For example, a machine would not know if the patient visits doctors often so there may be limited data to draw conclusions from. Howev, r with AI and nurses working together, they can factor this into consideration of the diagnosis. This idea stems back to the concern that AI will take over, when in fact the best results will come of the two bodies working together.

The benefits of using AI tremendously outweigh the negatives, such as replacing staff, by bringing expertise from millions of data records and helping treat patients quicker. Reform’s report explains that if the NHS takes on the recommendations and embrace AI technology, then the service will be bettered even further than it already is.