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Artificial Intelligence (AI) has exploded onto the global stage following the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, sparking both excitement and debate in equal measure. It’s quickly become a symbol of transformative potential for numerous industries, with healthcare particularly positioned to benefit. AI promises to fundamentally transform how healthcare services are delivered, how treatments are administered, and how data is managed.

Despite some lingering scepticism, there’s a growing optimism that AI will soon deliver tangible value, streamlining healthcare processes in ways previously thought impossible. True, AI is still in its developmental phase, but the blistering pace of progress made in recent years, coupled with the significant investment of both human and financial capital, strongly suggests that we are at the forefront of a new industrial revolution. 

The story so far 

Since ChatGPT’s launch, tech stock valuations have surged as investors consider the potential of AI to revolutionise the world. Companies like NVIDIA, which manufacture the GPUs that power these advanced AI models, have seen a staggering 10x growth in their stock price in less than 2 years. This investment frenzy has been propelled by tech giants like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and others who are keen to harness AI’s capabilities to enhance their service offerings. 

Microsoft, for instance, has integrated AI into its suite of Office365 applications with the development of Co-Pilot, leveraging GPT-4 to automate tasks across Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, promising substantial increases in productivity.  

Robot hand shaking human hand

Despite these innovations, an undercurrent of scepticism remains about the real-world utility of AI. Critics argue that LLMs often generate inaccurate outputs or “hallucinate” data, noting that so far, AI has had little impact on global productivity metrics and has seen limited application in key business scenarios. For instance, McDonald’s recently had to abandon its AI-powered voice ordering service due to frequent and comical errors. 

Nonetheless, ChatGPT’s rise as the fastest-growing consumer application to date shows that the technology is providing a lot of value to people already. AI bulls, of which I am one, remain confident that ongoing algorithmic improvements and increased computing power will address current limitations, enabling AI to make significant contributions across various sectors in the short to medium term. 

AI in Healthcare 

The healthcare sector stands to benefit immensely from AI integration. It’s not just a buzzword – there’s lots of projects going on that are making a big difference in improving efficiency and patient outcomes. Current applications are broad and varied, demonstrating both the versatility and potential of AI technologies. 

In diagnostics, AI is making great strides. For example, Qure.AI’s advanced chest x-ray triage technology is enabling faster lung cancer diagnosis, and is already being adopted by a number of NHS trusts. Brainomix offers a stroke imaging solution that speeds up treatment decisions by quickly processing and diagnosing CT and MRI scans. Aidence’s Veye Lung Nodules tool enhances lung nodule detection in chest CT scans, integrating seamlessly into existing radiology workflows. In a recent announcement, the UK government set out plans to invest £15.5 million to introduce AI tech across all NHS England radiotherapy departments. This technology is designed to review CT and MRI scans to distinguish cancerous cells from healthy organs, aiming to prevent damage to healthy cells during radiotherapy. The government estimates that AI can detect cancer cells 2.5 times quicker than clinicians alone, helping to reduce waiting lists.  

Predictive analytics is another area where AI is making an impact. ACE, under the NHS AI Lab, is developing tools to predict prolonged hospital stays, allowing for earlier adjustments in treatment plans to prevent extended hospitalisations. Additionally, Cera’s AI tool predicts elderly falls with high accuracy, potentially preventing numerous hospitalisations each year. 

Focusing on Primary Care: Immediate impacts of AI 

In primary care, the immediate impacts of AI are likely to be around improving operational efficiency —where AI-driven tools and systems simplify complex admin tasks and increase accuracy as well as speed of service delivery.  

We’re excited to announce a series of webinars throughout the summer investigating the potential of AI to improve efficiency. 

Our upcoming webinars are specifically designed to explore these innovations, each focusing on a different aspect of AI’s integration into primary care: 

GPTs as Assistants: Our first webinar will explore how Generative Pre-trained Transformers (GPTs) can act as digital and transformation assistants, guiding workflow and decision-making processes within primary care settings. We’re excited to announce the release of our new Digital and Transformation Assistant, which is designed to support healthcare professionals by providing timely information around a range of digital and transformation activities. 

Robotic Process Automation (RPA): The second webinar will cover RPA’s role in automating routine clinical processes such as GP registrations and handling lab results. RPA technology can significantly reduce the administrative burden on healthcare staff, allowing them to dedicate more time to patient care. This session will include practical demonstrations of RPA in action, showcasing its potential to enhance efficiency and accuracy in clinical settings. 

Using Co-Pilot for Backoffice Efficiency: Our third webinar will focus on how AI tools like Microsoft’s Co-Pilot can support back office operations for primary care practices. Co-Pilot and similar tools can automate document creation, schedule management, and other administrative tasks, thereby streamlining operations and reducing overheads. This session will provide insights into how these tools can be integrated into GP practices to enhance overall efficiency. 

You can sign up to attend these webinars here.

The Future of AI in General Practice 

Now for the fun speculative bit! Over the next 5-10 years, I’m bullish about the transformative impact AI will have on Primary Care. Here are some predictions: 

Enhanced patient triage and clinical assessment 

First, I think we’ll see online consultation and digital telephony provides evolve their systems from form-based and button-based approaches to more conversational, chat-like systems. These AI-driven systems will move beyond static forms to interactive chat-bots capable of dynamic conversations. The latest advancements in OpenAI’s conversational voice tech with their 4o release demonstrate the potential for this transformation. For example, Octopus Energy has already transitioned much of its customer support to online AI handlers, successfully replacing 250 human workers and achieving higher customer satisfaction. 

As AI becomes more intelligent, these systems will increasingly be able to deliver clinical assessments. This evolution means that the original vision of Babylon – which unsuccessfully attempted to pioneer an AI driven GP chatbot – may finally be realised. These advanced AI systems will have the capability to access medical records, analyse patient data, and perform basic clinical assessments without the need for in-person GP appointments. This will allow practice staff to focus on more complex cases that require direct interaction. 

Predictive healthcare 

We already have great tools like Q-Risk, which predict the likelihood of heart attacks or strokes. I think AI will supercharge predictive capabilities. We’ll see optimised patient recall, enhanced health checks, and a stronger focus on preventive care rather than reactive treatments. The NHS’s preventive approach will get a significant boost from AI’s predictive power. 

Improved administrative efficiency 

AI tools like Co-Pilot promise to massively enhance back-office efficiency by automating tasks such as emails, word documents, and spreadsheets through Office365 integration. Similarly, embedding AI into GP clinical systems in a similar way could be even more impactful, enabling the automatic generation of patient follow-up emails, auto-scheduling of appointments and patient recalls, and efficient management of patient records and reporting. These advancements will streamline administrative tasks, freeing up time for healthcare professionals to focus on what they do best – patient care. 

Matt Sweeney

Blog by Matt Sweeney

Matt Sweeney is the Director of Marketing & Products at Redmoor Health. Matt has over a decade of experience in the digital health sector. His career includes senior positions in large public companies and fast-growing startups, including Head of Partnerships & Alliances at EMIS Group and Commerical Director roles at Iatro and Private GP Services.

Currently, as part of Redmoor’s team, Matt is responsible for leading the product development and marketing of their digital health products. His efforts are focused on aligning these products with Redmoor’s vision and the needs of the NHS, drawing on his extensive background in commercial and product strategy.

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