Medtech Wednesday: Can the NHS successfully adopt new AI systems?

MedTech Wednesday is our weekly check-in here at Spreckley, where we share all the most interesting and useful healthcare innovation and health technology news and trends.

This week we look at the NHS’s latest trials with AI healthcare systems, the latest developments in wearable health technology for cancer patients in Manchester and the announcement of £9m funding for eight late-stage innovation projects that advance the earlier and faster diagnosis of cancer.

NHS trialling new approach to AI biases in healthcare

The NHS in England is set to trial a new approach to the ethical adoption of artificial intelligence in healthcare to eradicate bias says digitalhealth.net.

The Algorithmic Impact Assessment (AIA), designed by the Ada Lovelace Institute, sees researchers and developers assessing the possible risks and biases of AI systems to patients and the public before giving access to NHS data.  Researchers are being encouraged to integrate and engage with patients and medical professionals at an early stage of the systems’ development. This will allow room for flexibility regarding adjustments and responding to concerns.

Octavia Reeve, interim lead at the Ada Lovelace Institute, said: “Algorithmic impact assessments have the potential to create greater accountability for the design and deployment of AI systems in healthcare, which can, in turn, build public trust in the use of these systems, mitigate risks of harm to people and groups, and maximise their potential for benefit. We hope that this research will generate further considerations for the use of AIAs in other public and private-sector contexts.”

The ultimate goal is to see improvements in patient experience and the clinical integration of AI. Plus, it’s hoped that the AIA could increase the transparency, accountability and legitimacy for the use of AI in healthcare.

New wearable health tech to monitor cancer treatment

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester have joined together to trial a wearable health technology for cancer patients, digitalhealth.net reports.

The technology is open to patients with blood, lung or colorectal cancer, with health sensors allowing doctors to monitor patients progress by producing a digital fingerprint of their vital signs. This vital new information will provide new insight into how patients cope with cancer and identify what else can be done to aid recovery. Zenzium Ltd, a health and biomedical data science company who have partnered with the trial, will use AI to analyse and identify key patterns within the data obtained.

The “Enhanced Monitoring for Better Recovery and Cancer Experience” (EMBRaCE) trial in Manchester will investigate a smart ring from Oura, the Withings ScanWatch hybrid smartwatch and the Isansys system which is to be worn on the chest. Throughout the trial, professionals will be able to monitor vital signs such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), heart rate, temperature, physical activity levels and sleep.

Steve Sweeney, chair of the group of patients who have advised the project said: “We know patients have anxiety around ongoing monitoring and the gap between GP and hospital cancer care, issues with fatigue and sleep disturbance, problems maintaining fitness and the need for greater psychological support. The EMBRaCE programme addresses these challenges head-on, allowing participants to take more proactive control of their cancer journey through wearables and the data they provide clinicians.”

New £9m funding to advance cancer diagnosis projects

SBRI Healthcare has announced the winners of NHS England’s multi-million-pound funding for late-stage innovation projects that advance the earlier and faster diagnosis of cancer, Health Business reports.

NHS Cancer Programme and the Accelerated Access Collaborative have struck a partnership pledging more than nine million pounds of funding. This is for eight late-stage innovation projects that focus on the earlier and faster diagnosis of cancer. These innovations coincide with the NHS Long Term Plan goal for cancer, that being an extra 55,000 people will survive cancer for five years or more, and 75 per cent of people will be diagnosed earlier at stage one or two.

The funding competition was launched in 2021 attracting 51 applicants from the open market. It called for late-stage solutions to the challenges of improving the early detection and diagnosis of cancer; and diagnostic efficiency for cancer service.

Organisations set to receive the funding include The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust (£610,774) a whole-body MRI for Inherited Cancer Early Diagnosis (ICED); and Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (£1,624,825 ) for the dissemination of the Newcastle MSI-PLUS assay for Lynch syndrome screening and therapeutic targeting.