Prime Minister challenges UK to transform care through AI and data science

21 May 2018        

Category: Research

a stylised picture showing a circuit board in the shape of a human head representing the idea of artificial intelligence

We’ve today backed a challenge from the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to make the UK a world leader in the use of data and artificial intelligence to help transform the diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases in the UK.

Speaking in Macclesfield, the Prime Minister challenged the NHS, leading health charities and industry to accelerate progress in using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to quicken the diagnosis of conditions including heart and circulatory disease, cancer and dementia. 

The speech supports the Government’s Industrial Strategy, which includes four Grand Challenges to put the UK at the forefront of future technologies and industries. This includes growing the artificial intelligence and data driven economy and managing an ageing society. 

Cutting edge science 

Data science is the use of maths, statistics and computer science to get answers from large, complex data sets, while AI is the use of computer algorithms to draw conclusions from this type of data without direct human input. 

Applying these techniques to secure health data has already shown huge promise in improving diagnosis, including for people at high risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure. 

Our Chief Executive, Simon Gillespie, welcomed the challenge from Macclesfield: 

“Accelerating research using health data and artificial intelligence will build on the UK’s reputation for cutting-edge science, and lead to transformative improvements in treating patients within the NHS.” 

“Our research, including through initiatives like UK Biobank, is already showing the huge potential of data science to transform care for the millions of people living with heart and circulatory disease in the UK. For example, there is promising evidence that using artificial intelligence to analyse CT scans could spot early signs of heart disease which may be missed by current techniques. This could lead to a quicker diagnosis with more personalised treatment that could ultimately save lives.”

“Through investment in innovation  we will also accelerate the adoption of new data-led technologies, for instance  to detect and monitor conditions like atrial fibrillation, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which significantly increase the risk of a deadly heart attack or stroke.”

Leading the data revolution

Our research is already revealing how data science and AI could transform the diagnosis of heart and circulatory diseases. 

For example, research we’re funding at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford is using AI techniques to develop a new test using CT scans that could identify people at high risk of heart attacks and strokes earlier than is currently possible. It could also identify people who are missed by current techniques. This could allow far more people to be given preventative treatments that could ultimately save their life.