The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has announced the winners of the second wave of the NHS AI Lab’s £140 million AI in Health and Care Award.

The winners have been awarded a share of £36 million to test “state-of-the-art” AI technology, which thousands of patients and NHS staff will benefit from.

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In total, 38 projects have the backing of NHSX and Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC), including:

  • An AI-guided tool to help doctors and nurses to diagnose heart attacks more accurately
  • An algorithm to fast-track the detection of lung cancer
  • An AI-powered mental health app to help tackle symptoms of anxiety and depression while also identifying people experiencing severe mental health difficulties
  • Technology to help spot undiagnosed spinal fractures
  • A cancer detection tool to help pathologists identify cancers and their spread in digital images

AI technologies provide faster and more personalised diagnoses

The AI in Health and Care Award aims to accelerate the testing and evaluation of AI in the NHS, so patients can benefit from faster and more personalised diagnosis and greater efficiency in screening services.

Since the first wave of the awards in September, more than 17,000 stroke patients and more than 25,000 patients with diabetes or high blood pressure have benefited from new AI technologies.

The AI award package also includes funding to support the research, development and testing of early phase, promising ideas which could be used in the NHS in future. Examples of these ideas are:

  • An AI-guided tool that could diagnose heart attacks more accurately and quickly through better interpretation of blood analysis
  • Using AI with home monitoring equipment to predict sudden dips in the health of cystic fibrosis patients, aiming to prevent them occurring
  • Developing AI to measure the volume of brain tumours from scans to assess which are at risk of growth to ensure those patients are monitored more frequently
  • Using data from 20 years of previous kidney transplants to improve the decision-making process for a patient to receive less-than-perfectly-matched donor kidneys or wait for the next available one
  • Using AI to analyse video recordings of the gastrointestinal tract, taken from a camera you can swallow, to target bowel cancer and other gastrointestinal diseases

"A more innovative future"

The next round of applications is set to open in late June, with much of the funding still yet to be allocated.

Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: "Through our NHS AI Lab we’re now backing a new generation of ground-breaking but practical solutions to some of the biggest challenges in healthcare. Precision cancer diagnosis, accurate surgery, and new ways of offering mental health support are just a few of the promising real world patient benefits. Because as the NHS comes through the pandemic, rather than a return to old ways, we’re supercharging a more innovative future.

"So today, our message to developers worldwide is clear – the NHS is ready to help you test your innovations and ensure our patients are among the first in the world to benefit from new AI technologies."