Round 3 of the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award is now open
Since its launch in September 2020, thousands more patients and NHS staff are set to benefit from developments in artificial intelligence through round 3 of our AI Award competition.
Round 3 of the AI in Health and Care Award launched on Tuesday 29 June, opening the funding competition to new AI technologies adding to the 80 projects we have already taken on board. The AI Award allows us to trial AI technologies that meet the needs of the NHS Long Term Plan and test that they can be used safely and ethically to benefit patients and staff.
What is the Award doing?
Many of the challenges faced by healthcare professionals have been made worse by the pandemic. Patients are typically waiting longer to visit their GP or be diagnosed and to start treatment. It is evident from the technologies in rounds 1 and 2 of the Award that AI has the potential to help with our recovery. More than 70 sites are now live and trialling technologies from these first rounds and we are excited to see the new ideas and innovations that round 3 will bring.
Of course, developing AI to the point that it is safe to use with patients and fit for purpose involves quality control and regulation too. The teams behind the Award at the NHS AI Lab, the Accelerated Access Collaborative and the National Institute for Health Research, are running programmes that evaluate each technology carefully, assessing not only whether it achieves better outcomes, but whether it does so fairly, with equal accessibility and without bias. We also support later stage innovations through the approval process, guiding the testing to meet regulatory requirements.
What is the focus for round 3?
Having been impressed by the huge number of applications (around 900 to date), and the diversity of the innovations for rounds 1 and 2, we are continuing to prioritise technologies that will help to tackle some of the biggest issues for the NHS and for patients, as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan. This includes products that:
- enable the self-management of long-term conditions so that people can better manage their own health
- provide diagnostic support to improve the speed and accuracy of assessment and diagnosis
- improve operational efficiency by taking on labour-intensive tasks to free up staff time
- support elective recovery so that people needing planned care see the right person, in the right place, first and every time, at the right time, and get the best possible outcomes
Information for applicants
- You can learn more about making an application at one of our drop-in events in August and September.
- Watch a webinar with more information for applicants on the NHS AI Virtual Hub.
- Round 3 closes on Tuesday 7 September 2021.
Successes from rounds 1 and 2
£86 million of the £140 million funding pool has so far been awarded to support the testing, evaluation and adoption of these technologies into the NHS. And we have high hopes that many of these will prove to play a big part in answering problems that affect the quality and efficiency of care. Technologies from round 1 are already helping with faster and more efficient screening for cancer, like the deep learning AI tool Mia, from Kheiron Medical, which analyses mammography images. And others that give patients greater control over their own health, like the home care testing tool from Healthy.io that allows diabetic patients to self-monitor and avoid unnecessary trips to hospital.
Winners of round 2 were announced on 16 June by the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, and these 38 innovations include some exciting products aimed at improving efficiency, predicting heart disease and supporting mental health:
Navenio helps hospital teams to be in the right place at the right time. It uses smartphones’ sensors to pinpoint people’s location in the hospital and automates work tasks based on where they are and their availability. Early studies have shown waiting time for staff and patients reduced by 29%, with hospital teams able to focus on care and get through up to 94% more work.
CaRi-HEART is an AI platform that uses standard CT scans of the heart to predict the risk of cardiac arrest before the heart is showing signs of damage. The technology detects signs of inflammation. This inflammation indicates the possibility of clots forming, which may lead to a heart attack. Their study with the British Heart Foundation revealed that people with abnormal findings are up to 9 times more likely to die of a heart attack in the next 9 years than those with normal findings.
Wysa is an AI chatbot that combines cognitive behavioural techniques with human expertise to provide mental health support. It is already used by millions of patients around the world for meditation, breathing and mindfulness exercises. Now, as part of the AI Award, it will be tested in a clinical pathway with NHS patients for the first time to see whether the technology can identify those people needing more urgent help.
What are the new trends for AI?
The applications to the AI Awards are a great indicator of the latest trends for AI in health and social care. We’ve already seen how AI can take a very typical data source, like images, and find something more in it than we can with the human eye. But what is new and emerging, is the opportunity for technology to reach people and bridge the health inequality divide.
Instead of taking a passive approach to managing long-term conditions, where you're often required to visit a healthcare professional regularly, now we have the potential for technology to provide people with information they need to really take control of their own healthcare at home. They can be helped to be aware of when they need to go and who they need to see. This is a shift that’s really exciting, and it’s on the horizon.