New technology could save the NHS an estimated half a million hours of manpower per year by the middle of the decade, with plans to automate some behind-the-scenes tasks.
The government is due to release a new draft data strategy this week that aims to save lives by sharing more patient information to give them better access to health care.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the changes would be made after the coronavirus pandemic demonstrated the need to use data more effectively.
In addition to the use of artificial intelligence (AI), the strategy will promote “robotic process automation”, in which back office processes are automated by software.
The Department of Health and Welfare (DHSC) said this would save the NHS more than half a million hours of staff time per year by 2025, but it would not affect staffing levels.
Studies with AI are also supported by the strategy, with the aim of replacing one of the two radiologists needed to review breast cancer screenings with AI.
Mr. Hancock said, “Data saves lives. We need to learn from the pandemic in order to improve the way our health and care systems process data, empower patients, and enable clinicians to use data in new ways to improve patient care and support To support research into innovative treatments.
“This pandemic has shown us how many lives can be saved through the effective use of data – we must do all we can to unlock that potential, and the changes brought about by this strategy will undoubtedly save countless more lives in the future . “.”
The proposals also include giving people access to their medical records.
Professor Mark Callaway of the Royal College of Radiologists said AI was “undoubtedly a huge leap forward,” but stated that technology is not a panacea for human resource problems.
“Any program must be rigorously tested and then regulated for widespread adoption in the NHS, and the AI regulatory landscape itself is still evolving,” he said.
“AI imaging is not a panacea for health care personnel problems as radiologists and imaging teams do a lot more than just look at scans, but AI programs will undoubtedly help by acting as a second set of eyes and a safety net.”
Referring to the lessons learned during the Covid-19 crisis, the DHSC said that employees who were able to share data in a privacy-safe manner approved clinical trials in record time.
This allowed research into treatments like dexamethasone, which the department says has saved more than a million lives around the world.