It is expected that a national database will cross-reference patient’s medical records, habits and genetic information to spot any early signs of cancer.
Downing Street is claiming the ground breaking technology could see at least 50,000 people each year diagnosed at an early stage of prostate, lung or bowel cancer. Sputnik spoke to pharmaceutical microbiologist Dr Tim Sandle about the benefits this could have on Britain and the NHS.
Sputnik: How will AI help with management of diagnosis?
Dr Tim Sandle: It’s a really good initiative; the key problem is about the late diagnosis of cancer and the argument of using artificial intelligence is to identify those members of the population who are at greatest risk and to then bring them in earlier for screening. The focus is particularly with prostate, lung and bowel cancer, and then you can undertake procedures like surgery or administer treatment sooner in order to increase survival rates.
What the NHS has at its disposal is an enormous database of information so there are things like genetic profiles from patient records and screening people for lifestyle and getting those people sufficiently early in order to allow, medical treatment to happen sooner.
Sputnik: What type of technology is needed then to meet these targets?
Dr Tim Sandle: There two waves of artificial intelligence, the first one is to interpret data bases, so the NHS has built up a huge library of information about patients over the years and this contains about their health status, their body mass, their genetic profile, and to plow through the millions of data points does take machines to do that and over time the technique and machine learning means that the more cases that the intelligence gets right, then the better it becomes going forward.
There are types of artificial intelligence that can improve the detection of tumours and looking at things like MRI scans and so on and being able to detect different types of tumours early.
Sputnik:What do you think about those saying this isn’t a good use of money when the NHS is in crisis now?
Dr Tim Sandle: I think health care is always going to require lots of money and I think the job creation thing is important but it’s a secondary thing. When a society is changing and the types of roles people will be performing and the way they engage with technology and the digital transformation of health is a subject in itself.
What this is doing, is all about if we detect diseases early as it’s not just cancer, the earlier we detect, the earlier we can administer treatment, the greater the survival rate but also the reduction of burden on the NHS going forward.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.