June 22, 2024

South West News

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Could A.I help support the NHS?

The NHS has come under immense pressure since the COVID crisis, with staff shortages expected to exceed half a million by 2036. With artificial intelligence (AI) coming on in leaps an bounds over the past few years, it could be a viable option for alleviating the burden on the British healthcare system.

In this article, we’ll explore how AI could help support the NHS and the concerns about its implementation. But first, a quick refresher on AI and how it’s currently used.

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence describes digital systems capable of performing tasks that are usually thought to require human intelligence. You’ve likely already encountered AI in some form in your daily life. For example, face and voice recognition technology on your phone uses AI. Yet there have been some major innovations in this technology in recent years, so it could become even more commonplace in the near future.

How could AI support the NHS?

There are many ways in which artificial intelligence could be used to support the NHS. Some promising applications include:

  • Information chatbots – Virtual AI chatbots could provide patients with valuable health information, enabling them to better understand and make informed decisions about their health. In contrast with healthcare professionals, chatbots could be available around the clock, giving patients access to information and support whenever they need it.


  • Analysing scans and tests – AI algorithms can be programmed to effectively analyse the results from X-ray images such as mammograms or important tests like bloodwork. This has the benefit of freeing up technicians, nurses, and doctors to spend more time speaking with patients or even service a greater number of patients in less time.


  • Making diagnoses – AI could help healthcare professionals discover the causes of illnesses and make decisions about the best treatment options. This could reduce the burden placed on doctors to think through all the different possibilities and allow them to find solutions to patients’ problems more quickly and effectively.

What are some concerns about using AI in the NHS?

While using AI certainly has the potential to improve British healthcare, it does also raise several concerns. These include:

  • More medical mistakes – Current AI models famously have patterns of misinformation. Over reliance on this technology could bring out its worst tendencies, leading to misdiagnoses and worse outcomes for patients. Although patients could always make medical negligence claims to seek compensation, it would be better if mistakes didn’t occur in the first place.


  • Replacing human nurses – The rapid innovation of AI technologies has left many people fearing for their jobs. How many healthcare workers could it displace if AI becomes more widespread in the NHS? Measures would need to be taken to ensure that it’s used to empower and complement NHS staff rather than replace them.


  • Violating data privacy – AI-based technologies typically use algorithms that learn by processing large amounts of data. With this in mind, many people are concerned that their privacy could be violated if their personal data is fed to AI algorithms. Although the NHS has policies in place to help safeguard patient data, these may not be enough to fully prevent any misuse of data while implementing these new technologies.


How do you feel about AI being used in the NHS? Could it be the perfect way to help the British healthcare system get back on its feet? Or could it make the situation worse than it already is? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.