Patients with COVID-19 are set to benefit from faster treatment, improved outcomes and shorter hospital stays thanks to the use of the latest artificial intelligence.
- – AI imaging database will improve diagnosis of patients presenting with COVID-19 symptoms
- – Increased speed and accuracy in diagnosis can lead to early medical intervention and save lives
NHSX, a unit tasked with driving the digital transformation of care in the NHS, has brought together over 40,000 CT scans, MRIs and X-rays from more than 10,000 patients across the UK during the course of the pandemic.
Access to this National COVID-19 Chest Imaging Database (NCCID) has now been extended to hospitals and universities across the country who are using the images to track patterns and markers of illness. The database can speed up diagnosis of COVID-19, leading to a quick treatment plan and greater understanding of whether the patient may end up in a critical condition.
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said:
Clinicians at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge are developing an algorithm based on the NCCID images to help inform a more accurate diagnosis of patients when they present to hospital with potential COVID-19 symptoms and have not yet had a confirmed test. Using visual signatures of the virus, as they appear in chest scans, they are able to compare the patterns in the patient’s imaging with those seen previously in the NCCID to get a more accurate diagnosis and prognosis.
Understanding the earlier stages of disease means that clinicians are more easily able to implement appropriate, early medical interventions, reducing the potential for later complications. This includes giving patients oxygen and medication before they reach a critical stage, and predicting the need for additional ICU capacity, enabling the management of beds and staff resource in those settings.
Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb, Professor of Applied Mathematics and head of the Cambridge Image Analysis group at the University of Cambridge, said:
The NCCID is also helping researchers from universities in London (University College London), and Bradford, to develop AI tools that could help doctors improve the treatment for patients with COVID-19.
The database is helping to inform the development of a potential national AI imaging platform to safely collect and share data, developing AI technologies to address a number of other conditions such as heart disease and cancers.
The NCCID is one workstream taken forward by the NHS AI Lab at NHSX. The NHS AI Lab has also set up and launched a £140 million AI award this year in collaboration with the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), which aims to bring the benefits of AI technologies to patients and staff across health and care. Initial bids were awarded to 42 organisations in September 2020 with a further round of bids closing last month.
Dominic Cushnan, Head of AI Imaging at NHSX, said:
NHSX was able to quickly establish the project during the spring by working closely with Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust to scale up an existing data collection process.
Dr Mark Halling-Brown, Head of Scientific Computing at Royal Surrey County Hospital, said: