Robot finger pressing a key on the computer depicting AI in the NHS

AI in the NHS: UK must close ‘confidence gap’ to maximise potential, say experts

While many Britons believe AI could be the key to solving some of the NHS’s biggest problems, a lack of trust and understanding could prevent the UK from fully harnessing the benefits on offer, a new study from the British Standards Institution (BSI) has revealed.

BSI polled 10,000 adults across nine countries and found that, of the circa 1,000 which were UK responses, more than half (54%) were excited about the possibility of AI being used during diagnoses.

This came as nearly one in two (49%) also supported the use of AI to reduce NHS waiting times – a record 7.75 million people are estimated to be waiting for treatment in England alone. An almost identical figure (48%) also welcomed using AI to help meet staffing demands.

Despite this, AI still lacks trust among the general population, with nearly two-thirds (65%) of UK respondents saying they think patients should be informed if an AI tool is being used during the diagnostic process.

“AI is a transformational technology. For it to be a powerful force for good, trust needs to be the critical factor.”

This is reflected in the desire for regulation, with three in five (61%) wanting international guidelines to ensure the safe use of AI.

“There is a clear opportunity to harness AI to drive societal impact, change lives and accelerate progress towards a better future and a sustainable world,” said BSI’s chief commercial officer, Harold Pradal. “Closing the AI confidence gap is the first necessary step.”

The research also found that, while AI is prevalent in the lives of many British people, many are still unsure of its actual application – almost half (44%) did not think innovations like Siri and Alexa used AI.

Director of data science and AI at BSI, Craig Civil, commented: “Now is the moment for the UK to collaborate to balance the great power of this tool with the realities of actually using it in a credible, authentic, well-executed, and well-governed way.”

He continued: “Closing the confidence gap and building the appropriate checks and balances can enable us to make not just good but great use of AI in every area of life and society.”

If the UK fails to bridge said gap, BSI warns that it risks becoming a laggard on the international stage, with other economies like China and India already displaying a larger enthusiasm for AI.

                                                                        Video credit: Canva

The majority of people in China (70%) and India (64%) use AI every day for work; this compares to the UK average which is less than half (29%) of those figures, according to BSI.

The study was commissioned to launch the Shaping 5.0 essay collection, which explores how AI innovations can catalyse societal progress.

As the NHS continues to adopt AI technologies, especially during cancer diagnoses, it is becoming increasingly clear the world of AI will play a key role in the next generation of healthcare.

To learn more about what this future could look like, read NHS AI director, Dom Cushnan’s account in the latest edition of National Health Executive’s online magazine.

Image credit: iStock

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