Nine healthcare technologies that use artificial intelligence (AI) have been selected to receive nearly £16 million of funding to help accelerate their use in the NHS.
AI systems that can help detect cancer, diagnose rare diseases, identify women at highest risk of premature birth, and support the treatment of neurological conditions were among those selected for investment.
The largest share of funding, worth just over £2.5 million, was made to University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, which is leading an international project to evaluate the effectiveness of AI in performing a preliminary analysis of bowel cancer risk from home-based colon capsule endoscopy. The funding will help to digitise the work of 10 NHS laboratories and create a hub containing images of patients' cells.
Medtronic Limited was awarded more than £2.4 million to aid development of its GI Genius™ AI-based medical device for highlighting bowel regions with mucosal abnormalities during colonoscopies. Dr Bu Hayee, consultant gastroenterologist and principle investigator of Medtronic's national study of artificial intelligence in adenoma detection for colonoscopy, said it would enable them to "explore the use of AI in a 'real world' setting, and how it might influence endoscopists in their day-to-day practice".
Ibex Medical Analytics will receive more than £1.54 million for trials of its AI-driven Galen Breast system for aiding pathologists in analysing breast biopsies to check for cancer. The money will assist testing of the technology at Nottingham University Hospitals, Cambridge University Hospitals, North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, and University Hospitals Birmingham. Researchers will analyse its findings on 10,000 patients and evaluate improvements in the quality of diagnosis, cost-effectiveness, and diagnosis time.
Professor Emad Rakha, honorary consultant pathologist at the University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust, commented: "Over the last several years in the UK, cancer cases increased while the number of pathologists decreased, resulting in record-high workloads for pathology departments. Timely and accurate diagnosis can significantly impact breast cancer survival rates, making Ibex's solution a vital and welcome addition into NHS trusts."
Funding from the AI in Health and Care Awards
The latest tranche of funding has been made available through the third round of the AI in Health and Care Awards, set up in 2019 to develop promising AI technologies. Since its inception, £123 million has been invested in 86 technologies. The money is channelled through the National Institute for Health and Care Research, the NHS AI Lab, and the Accelerated Access Collaborative.
Other projects supported in the latest round and the value of funding were:
- Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust for an AI system to improve diagnosis of lung artery blockages and high blood pressure which results in breathing difficulties (£833,816)
- Mendelian Limited for a project capturing disease features from electronic health records across a patient population, matching patients to published diagnostic criteria for hundreds of rare diseases (£1,430,848)
- Oxford Cancer Biomarkers Limited, which is using AI to identify biomarkers in screening to help clinicians deliver personalised care to patients with colorectal cancer (£1,475,357)
- Icometrix for development of one of its neurological disorders AI systems focusing on imaging of multiple sclerosis (£1,417,658)
- Cibiltech to aid development of an AI-based algorithm to assist surgeons to adjust specific treatments by predicting the outcome of a kidney transplant (£1,141,441)
- Tommy's National Centre for Maternity Improvement for its online 'Tommy's App' that can assist healthcare providers to identify pregnant women most at risk of giving birth prematurely or of developing complications that can lead to stillbirth, using clinically-validated machine learning algorithms (£1,869,493)
Steve Barclay, England's Health and Social Care Secretary, said: "Artificial intelligence has the potential to speed up diagnoses and treatments and free up time for our doctors and nurses so they can focus on caring for patients. Around 300,000 people have already benefited from companies supported by our AI awards, with tens of thousands more set to benefit."