Artificial Intelligence at Center of New British Health Initiative

The UK has launched a project to leverage artificial intelligence to help improve medical diagnoses and outcomes; data from RFID systems could help enable these types of solutions.

Earlier this year, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the AI (artificial intelligence) and Data Grand Challenge, an initiative targeted as using AI to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and dementia by 2030.

The healthcare project is one of four Grand Challenges that are part of the UK’s new Industrial Strategy, and could have a significant impact on public health. According to Cancer Research UK investing in an early diagnosis research platform with AI data could result in over 56,000 more people annually having cancers diagnosed at an early rather than late stage within 15 years. That in turn could result in 22,000 fewer deaths within five years of diagnosis compared to the current mortality rate.


According to the project summary: “Success in this mission is one of a number of steps toward saving lives and increasing [National Health Service] efficiency by enabling earlier diagnosis and reducing the need for costly late stage treatment. The opportunity – working with academia, the charitable sector, and industry and harnessing the power of AI and data technologies – is considerable.”

AI can take over the work of performing routine (and dull) tasks in healthcare in order to reduce human error and improve outcomes – transcribing records, managing appointments and schedules, and optimizing patient flows. “The biggest, fastest impact of AI will be on the boring, human tasks rather than the more complicated ones,” said Mihaela van der Schaar, an Oxford University professor, quoted in this piece in the Financial Times.

Normally, discussions involving AI decision-making systems worry about keeping “humans in the loop.” But when it comes to an area as personal as healthcare it may be better to reverse that way of thinking. We can undoubtedly save lives and money by including “algorithms in the loop.”

Fully leveraging AI will require exactly the type of operational data generated by the rugged RFID tags that Xerafy provides to hospitals and other organizations to track surgical instruments and medical devices. RFID tag data can provide device location, usage, and patient data that can be used to optimize a number of operations.


Xerafy Autoclavable Dash XS attached on a surgical instrument (Source: Xerafy)

Analyzing the data that RFID generates will be the next phase of IT innovation in hospitals, according to Harvard Business Review. By deploying Xerafy’s autoclavable RFID tags and surgical instrument tracking solutions designed for healthcare, institutions can automatically track critical equipment, ensure the correct sets are available for each surgical procedure within seconds instead of hours, and improve decision making.

Join the conversation: Do you see your hospital/organisation involve A.I. in decision-making in the next couple of years? What challenges are you facing in healthcare data analytics?

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