Thursday, February 9, 2023
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Two NHS surgeons are using Azure AI to spot patients facing increased risks during surgery


“Some of the Microsoft tools around responsible AI are really good and show where those biases are,” Green says. “Those dashboards are fantastic.”

Reed agrees and adds that having “explainable AI” is critical for a healthcare organisation.

He also says that even after many decades of experience in orthopedics, he was surprised by some findings that the Responsible AI dashboard helped him spot.

“I was looking at what the AI model looks for to predict a risk of a ‘moderately severe’ complication. The dominant one was age, which was pretty obvious, followed by high blood pressure, which also made sense. The third one was the number of platelets.” These are cells in the blood that help clotting.

Reed was surprised to see that platelets carry such a significant weight in determining the outcome from surgery when compared to the other factors, and it may lead to new areas of research. That finding would have to be validated with different approaches, but it shows how technology is helping medical professionals to think differently about care.

NHS teams building their own AI models – as Green and Reed have done – are becoming increasingly common, as the healthcare sector tries to manage increasing workloads and provide cutting-edge care to millions of people.

Earlier this year, Health Education England, which supports the delivery of healthcare to the public, published its first roadmap to the use of AI in the NHS, which showed that the healthcare sector “recognizes the power and potential for AI to increase resilience, productivity, growth, and innovation.”

A total of 60 technologies are expected to be ready for large-scale deployment in England’s healthcare sector within a year. There are plans to roll out these and other digital tools across 67 clinical areas, including radiology, cardiology and general practice.

Patients might not notice the changes when they visit a hospital or their GP, but they could soon be benefitting from a more personalized and informative care experience.

Top image: Orthopedic surgeons Justin Green and Mike Reed from the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust look at Microsoft’s Responsible AI Dashboard (Photo credit: Jonathan Banks)


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