The UK is using AI to transform healthcare for residents

Can artificial intelligence really solve the talent problem in healthcare and transform the patient experience in the industry?
5 July 2018

Dr Ali Parsa, CEO, Babylon Health. Source: Youtube / Patient Power Europe

When you’re sick, there’s nothing more you want than to get the right treatment at the right time, so you can get better quickly.

However, there’s a shortage of doctors across the world. There always has been, and with time, the talent gap is only growing.

But citizens and residents needn’t suffer. In the United Kingdom, innovative startups, hospitals, and healthcare businesses are working together to transform healthcare using technology.

To them, artificial intelligence (AI) is particularly interesting.

Take Babylon Health for example. A Kensington-based startup founded by Dr. Ali Parsa, Babylon Health has created the NHS’ ‘GP at Hand’ program and app.

It aims to help eligible patients see an NHS GP in minutes, for free, 24/7. According to the company’s website, it provides online and face-to-face appointments, convenient prescriptions, choice of GP clinics across London.

Going by the user testimonials on Twitter and the 96 percent satisfaction score that the company’s website boasts of, it seems that the program has been quite successful with its audience.

Babylon Health has made its mark is with the use of AI in the initial phases of the patient-care process.

“On its app, GP at Hand, you type your symptoms into a purple interface and, after a pause, a “chatbot” types back. “Sorry to hear that, when did it start?” it begins, and the diagnosis continues from there, with relevant questions about your pain level and associated gripes. The duration of the conversation depends on your symptoms — at a certain point, if appropriate, it will connect you with a GP via a 24-hour live video service,” said the Evening Standard.

Not far away from Kensington, the Alder Hey children’s hospital uses AI to help put patients at ease when they arrive for treatment.

The company tied up with IBM’s AI-engine Watson to create a chatbot that learned about every patient’s choices and answered questions about their medical process and procedure.

The app also allows children to build avatars that can answer questions on the procedure, who they will see, and what happens afterwards.

Finally, and more broadly available in the UK, is Ada. Ada, an AI-powered app, claims to be everyone’s personal health app.

Ada asks simple, relevant questions and compares your answers to thousands of similar cases to help you find possible explanations for your symptoms.

The program is supported by a sophisticated medical knowledge base, covering thousands of symptoms and conditions. Its medical library shares patient-friendly medical information created to help you better understand and manage your health.

After your assessment, Ada will suggest what you could do next. This may include a visit to a doctor, pharmacist, or specialist, or to seek emergency care.

In fact, the app has gained so much popularity that developers have launched versions in Spanish and Portuguese earlier this year.

The fact is, there’s quite a bit of AI in healthcare at play in the UK and citizens seem to be thankful for it. If nothing else, it’s a strong and positive indicator of the direction and role that AI will play in healthcare going forward, in the UK and the rest of the world.