AI is Still a Strategic Priority for NHS Trust But Data Challenges Remain, a New Freedom of Information Request Finds


NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP), the leader in cloud data services, today announced the findings of its latest Freedom of Information request since the UK Government announced its investment in artificial intelligence in the National Health Service (NHS). The analysis found NHS Trusts are well underway with their artificial intelligence journeys, with 52% of NHS Trust already deploying artificial intelligence technologies and using them for clinical care (20%) and patient diagnosis (16%).

This new data was obtained by a Freedom of Information request from NetApp, with 61 Trusts responding. The request quizzed Trusts around their current and future use of artificial intelligence-related technologies to deliver health services, and how mature their data infrastructures are in delivering successful artificial intelligence projects.

One in six of Trusts (16%) will soon roll out AI within the next two years and three-quarters of respondents (75%) have appointed a leader for artificial intelligence for their Trust, which will be welcome news to the Department of Health and Social Care.

Alongside this movement, hospitals are increasingly harnessing technology such as speech recognition (28%), robotic process automation (25%) and machine learning (13%) to ease the pressure placed on healthcare workers, improve patient care and accelerate the delivery of personalized medicines. The ethical use of patient data for artificial intelligence are at the forefront of the Trusts’ minds, with 59% having already reviewed or plan to review their data governance policies.

While these developments are encouraging, there is still more work to be done to improve the access to the critical ingredient for artificial intelligence success – data. The request found only a third (33%) had full and complete access to data required for artificial intelligence deployments and 39% of Trusts have not financially invested in artificial intelligence projects today.

“Artificial intelligence has limitless potential in healthcare services and it’s encouraging to see the technology being used in half of NHS Trusts,” said George Kurian, NetApp chief executive officer and president. “As healthcare moves towards preventative treatment and personalized medicines, artificial intelligence leaders in the NHS have a complex challenge to break through cultural and organizational barriers when it comes to providing healthcare professionals the access to data they require.”

“Progress is being made and the further deployment of AI-powered technologies – such as speech recognition and machine learning – will alleviate pressure on staff, accelerate innovation and reduce costs,” Kurian continued. “The world of artificial intelligence starts with data, and we are helping healthcare organizations simplify data services and build their data fabrics.”

“At St Thomas’ MedTech Hub, we are at the forefront of utilising data and artificial intelligence to inform clinical decisions,” Professor Sebastien Ourselin, Head of School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences at King’s College London, added. “We are working on end-to-end solutions that embed AI into the clinical pathway, from early diagnostics to therapeutic interventions. High performing and maintainable solutions are key if we are to make these systems trusted and safe for clinical use and NetApp’s findings underline we are moving in the right direction.”

“Being able to channel the technological advancement under the heading of AI to create predictive models used in diagnostic imaging and operational efficiencies, is fast becoming a reality. Data policy, data storage and GPU processing, have all been artfully combined by Scans ecosystem partners, Nvidia, NetApp and Mellanox. Helping bring such technology together is a proud moment for all, leading to new standards being set in the near future”, summarizes Elan Raja, CEO Scan Computers. “The NHS is pride to the nation, using such technology can only help the NHS meet its growing demands.”