​Moving the Hype of AI to Real World Impact in Health 

The numbers were mind-boggling to contemplate at this year's CogX AI Festival.  By 2025 there will be 1036 (yes, that is 10 to the power of 36) IoT devices in the world that will be connected and sharing data.  IoT will converge through AI, which will not be limited by time, only by computing power. 

Making decisions is where AI will have the biggest impact.  'This is the year AI moves from classifying the past to making decisions for the future' proclaimed Vishal Chatrath, CEO of Prowler, at the keynote.   He added, it will also be the year to move beyond the hype- and the UK will be the place to be, with 'Silicon Valley 10%, tech 90% hype, and Cambridge 10% hype and 90% tech'.

The mantra is 'designing for open' and sharing data in a secure way a top concern voiced at CogX.  Jeni Tennison, CEO of Open Data Institute, argued the case for a trustworthy data ecosystem, 'as you can't have open data flows without trust….and how data is used is much more important than where it is stored and how it is collected' she said.

Dame Wendy Hall, author of the recent government report, Growing the artificial intelligence industry in the UK,  talked about the need for universal open standards, a sound, ethical data infrastructure and the big question on who to trust to look after our data.  She asked, 'we trust banks to look after our money but who will look after our data?'   This is where her vision of data trusts, an innovative approach to stimulating fair, safe and equitable data sharing between parties.  put forward in her report may provide the answer, and the government is looking at it.

This is all part of government's plans to boost the UK's global position as a leader in developing AI technologies.   The  AI Sector Deal and Industrial Strategy published in November 2017 announced the AI and Data-Driven Economy Grand Challenge geared to anchor the UK as the go-to destination for AI innovation and investment.   The AI Sector Deal recognises the critical importance of data availability, and its responsible use, to businesses at the forefront of the development of AI applications.


In support of the Grand Challenge on data and artificial intelligence (AI), a new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation is being established, with to enable and ensure safe, ethical and ground-breaking innovation in AI and data-driven technologies. The centre will work with government, regulators and industry, as well as across sectors and applications, to ensure that our regulatory regime fully supports – and removes barriers to – the ethical and innovative use of data and AI.


The Office for AI, led by Dr Demis Hassabis (Co Founder of DeepMind), and AI Council, a new industry body tasked with increasing growth in the AI sector and promoting its adoption in other sectors of the economy, with Dame Wendy Hall as a Skills Champion for AI and Tabitha Goldstaub (Co Founder of CogX) as the AI Business Champion, will ensure the Grand Challenges on AI and data unlocks the potential of the data-driven economy. Successful AI adoption could benefit households across the UK by up to £2,300 per year by 2030.


The AHSN AI Initiative aims to turn the vision of the UK as a leader in AI into reality in the health space.  It is building the NHS AI ecosystem and bringing together 40 core leaders with diverse perspectives on AI from clinical, technological, legal and ethical areas as well as practical on-the-ground experience from innovators in the NHS. The first stage of the ecosystem is a national survey to help understand the potential for AI and create the 'go to' directory of AI for health and social care.  Once completed, the survey will create an interactive map of where AI exists and where the compelling cases are (and will be) to use it within healthcare and in preventative health settings. 


At Cog X the AHSN AI project team ran a workshop Moving the 'Hype of AI to Real World Impact in Health' to present initial findings of the survey and engage the following experts to share their experience and perspectives in harnessing the potential of AI: Dr Hugh Harvey (Clinical Director, Kheiron Medical; Topol Review Member and Co-Chair, Expert Advisory Panel – Artificial Intelligence); Dr Payam Barnaghi (Co-Principal Investigator, Technology Integrated Health Management (TIHM), IoT Testbed Project, KSS AHSN); Harpreet Sood, Associate Chief Clinical Information Officer, NHS England; Melissa Ream, Adviser, KSS Academic Health Science Network, National AHSN AI Initiative; and Laura Douglas, Co-founder & CEO, Levels.


Chaired by Tina Woods, CEO of Collider Health and Adviser to the National AHSN AI Initiative and Dom Cushnan, AI Lead #AICommunity, Digital & Social Transformation, NHS Horizons, initial findings of the survey were presented before opening the discussion.  Overall, the top 6 factors most important for realising potential of AI in health were deemed as:

  1. NHS internal market and procurement
  2. Clarity on business models for AI development and deployment
  3. Education of public
  4. Funding/budget restraints
  5. Regulation of AI
  6. Open standards to promote data sharing and intra-operability
Various topics were explored by the panel and in an interactive Q & A with the audience including:
  • The likeliest use cases to deliver the most impact, in the short, medium- and long-term
  • Views on individual data portability, such as the Open Banking initiative, and data sharing concepts such as data trusts
  • How to build a trustworthy, ethical data ecosystem- and who to trust to look after our data 
  • Latest thinking in commercial models to support the SME sector post-Brexit
  • How regulation can keep up with technology, including latest thinking from MHRA and FDA
  • How to address barriers such as data quality, data sharing, interoperability
  • The potential of data sets that reside in the consumer space 
The survey is closing on 6th July and a full analysis including case studies demonstrating impact now will be presented as part of  a 'State of the Nation' submission for the NHSE AI report being presented at NHS EXPO in September.

Solutions to the challenges identified in the survey will be explored and actioned at a special session at the Wellcome Trust on 25th September with further events scheduled later this year.

The Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) Artificial Intelligence Initiative is looking for companies to showcase in the  'State of the Nation' submission for the NHSE AI report being presented at NHS EXPO in September.  For anyone interested in taking part, please fill in the survey here before the deadline on 6th July to be featured in the analysis for the wider report (please note any entries received after this date will still be included in our regular quarterly updates which will be featured on the AHSN website).

This article was written by Tina Woods, Founder and CEO of Collider Health and adviser to the National AHSN AI Programme.