Ask NHS helps patients find physio and mental health support
An AI-powered virtual assistant deployed by the UK's National Health Service (NHS) to help patients find information about their symptoms is now helping them access physiotherapy and mental health support during the ongoing pandemic.
The Ask NHS app, powered by technology from digital healthcare firm Sensely, launched in 2017. To date it has heped over 400,000 patients find information about their symptoms, as well as book flu vaccinations.
In a pilot conducted by 18 NHS practices in south London, 50,000 app users were able to book directly into their local physiotherapy service without requiring a referral from their doctor. This has meant an increase in usage of physiotherapy resources, delivered without any additional burden on healthcare workers, and with a total saving of over 150 hours of clinicians’ time.
In terms of mental health support, Sensely worked closely with the NHS' Healthy Minds programme (IAPT). As a result the app now enables patients to share their mental health concerns, driving them to online resources and automatically connecting them with local support services.
Health Mind resources include online material, insomnia self-help tools, and one-on-one consultations, with more urgent cases triaged for support from clinicians.
Adam Odessky, Sensely’s CEO, says that AI technology is ideal to help patients manage their health during the pandemic. “Sensely’s AI tools empower Ask NHS users to self-manage their healthcare during the COVID-19 crisis, while reducing the risk of infection and easing the strain on hard-working doctors and nurses” he says.
“Now more than ever, we need to ensure that people can access the physiotherapy and mental health support they need — and the Ask NHS app is the easiest and quickest way for patients to take charge of their healthcare journey.”
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”