AI in imaging

Artificial intelligence technologies applied to imaging, such as cancer screening, are amongst the most advanced uses of AI in healthcare.

Adoption of these technologies has significant potential to both improve care outcomes and reduce costs for the NHS across the UK. To ensure the opportunity of using AI in imaging is shared across the NHS, the NHS AI Lab will support the development of imaging technology, from mechanisms used to safely collect and share data to validating AI imaging software. 

The NHS AI Lab is also exploring whether introducing a national AI imaging platform would benefit the NHS; by making it easier for clinical staff to find and utilise the latest AI technology safely and effectively; and for AI innovators to develop and deploy their models at scale. This will build upon the learnings from the NHS AI Lab’s National COVID-19 Chest Imaging Database (NCCID) initiative.

We are currently undertaking a health and social care system-led discovery exercise to identify the opportunities and blockers for potentially sourcing an AI platform. If the NHS AI Lab decides to launch a tender opportunity to the commercial marketplace, market engagement opportunities will be provided with the support of the Department of Health and Social Care. These engagement sessions will provide a forum for potential applicants to seek clarity and better understand the scope of the opportunity. The potential tender is due to be launched at the start of the next financial year and more information will be made available at the appropriate time.

COVID-19 imaging

COVID-19 has given rise to a number of AI imaging technologies that are being developed for diagnosis and prognosis of COVID-19 patients.

NHSX has set up the National COVID-19 Chest Imaging Database (NCCID) to support better understanding of the virus and develop technology enabling the best care for patients hospitalised with a severe infection. Information about the sites that are contributing data toward the database and projects in development can be found on our GitHub.

NCCID is a centralised UK database containing chest X-Ray, CT and MRI images from hospital patients across the country. It’s being made available to both researchers and technology companies to help train and validate AI models. The value that a national resource like this brings lies in the diversity and quantity of data, which will allow AI tools to be developed and used at scale. For more information about the NHS AI Lab’s imaging work, please contact imaging@nhsx.nhs.uk.