Joint Research Office


UCLH and UCL winners of AI in healthcare awards

8 September 2020

UCLH and UCL researchers have featured prominently in the first AI (artificial intelligence) in Health and Care Awards announced by NHSX and the National Institute for Health Research this week.

Over £50m is being distributed among 42 award winners.

UCLH and UCL had 3 winners who will be applying cutting-edge artificial intelligence to improve patient care:

  • Dr Wai Keong Wong, Consultant Haematologist and Chief Research Information Officer at UCLH, will lead a project developing a natural language processing system to support the conversion of clinicians’ text in electronic health care records into a structured format that can be processed by computers to help support clinical decision making, planning and research. The system works at the point of care, during data entry, and clinicians are given the opportunity to validate the suggestions before they are added to the patient record. The system will be tested in a simulation environment and then tested at University College London Hospitals and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
  • Dr Laura Shallcross of UCL Infection & Immunity will lead a team which has developed the SamurAI system which will use AI to combine historical data for patients prescribed with antibiotics with the findings of specialists in infection as they review prescriptions. The system will learn when to start, stop or change the use of antibiotics to ensure they are only used when really necessary.
  • Dr Steve Harris, UCLH Consultant in Critical Care and Anaesthesia, is leading a project aiming to improve a model that predicts future demand for hospital beds, allowing local teams to adjust staffing levels or reschedule operations in line with future demand. The model will be tested with clinical and operational teams to make sure it is reliable, easy to use and safe.

The AI in Health and Care Award, which will distribute £140m over three years, forms part of the NHS AI Lab and is managed by the Accelerated Access Collaborative in partnership with NHSX and the National Institute for Health Research.

Managing Director of Research at UCLH Dr Nick McNally said: “This is fantastic news and recognition of the innovation that we are driving forward at UCLH.  The awards reflect our groundbreaking work as a research hospital where we are constantly using learning to improve patient care.  We are truly now on the cusp of a revolution in healthcare driven by advanced analytical techniques such as artificial intelligence.”

The NHS is committed to becoming a world leader in the use of AI and machine learning and harness the benefits on offer from the technology that range from faster and more personalised diagnosis to potential efficiencies in screening services.

Each product developed by the winning projects will undergo robust testing and independent evaluation to ensure they are effective, accurate, safe and value for money.

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive, said: “The NHS is determined to take advantage of the artificial intelligence revolution and ensure we are harnessing the latest and best technologies to improve care and save more lives.

“The technologies we’re funding today have the potential to transform how we deliver services such as screening tests, cancer treatment and stroke care for thousands of patients right across the country.”

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “AI has huge potential for transforming healthcare and freeing up medical professionals’ time - these awards are just the start of an exciting pipeline of new technology that will identify new ways to diagnose, screen and treat illnesses ranging from dementia and sepsis to antibiotic resistant infections and problems in pregnancy.”