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Use of robotics in the NHS under review

Jeremy Hunt enlists leading academic to review use of artificial intelligence and robotics in the NHS

Jeremy Hunt enlists leading academic to review use of artificial intelligence and robotics in the NHS


Picture: Alamy

Thousands of NHS staff are to be trained to use robotics and artificial intelligence as the health service sets out to embrace cutting-edge technology.

Developments in genomics, digital medicine, artificial intelligence and robotics have already revolutionised some treatments such as in eye surgery and knee replacement.

Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt has called on US professor of molecular medicine Eric Topol, to conduct a review of how the NHS can pioneer treatments.

Professor Topol, an expert in cardiology, genetics and digital medicine, has examined the use of wireless and smartphone technology in healthcare, as well as leading a multi-million dollar US research programme focusing on harnessing technology and data to provide treatment tailored to individual patients.

‘I want to empower staff to offer patients modern healthcare more widely and more quickly’

Jeremy Hunt

Supported by international experts, his independent review will examine artificial intelligence, including robotics, genomics and digital medicine, for example use of apps. It will look at training existing staff, as well as considering skills required from future healthcare professionals.

Glimpse of the future

Mr Hunt said: 'Every week we hear about exciting new developments surfacing in the NHS which could provide answers to some of our greatest challenges, such as cancer or chronic illness.

'The developments give us a glimpse of what the future of the whole NHS could be, which is why in the year of the NHS’s 70th birthday I want to empower staff to offer patients modern healthcare more widely and more quickly.

'I'm delighted that Professor Topol is kicking off this review – ensuring the NHS is at the forefront of life-saving, life-changing care across the globe for decades to come.'

Earlier detection and diagnosis

Professor Topol will begin the review with a visit to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, which has already revolutionised the way professionals carry out eye tests, by using artificial intelligence to detect common eye diseases at an early stage.

‘While it's hard to predict the future, we know artificial intelligence, digital medicine and genomics will have an enormous impact on healthcare’

Eric Topol

Moorfields is looking at how machine learning technology can help analyse eye scans, giving eye-care professionals a better and faster understanding of eye disease.

Professor Topol said: 'While it's hard to predict the future, we know artificial intelligence, digital medicine and genomics will have an enormous impact on efficiency and precision in healthcare.

'Our review will focus on the extraordinary opportunities to leverage these technologies for the healthcare workforce and power a sustainable and vibrant NHS.'

The conclusive review will be submitted by the end of the year.


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