Two doctors reviewing a CT scan

NHE365: The key questions in real-world AI delivery

Implementing AI solutions into our NHS services relies on a clear understanding of the problem, and then basing the solutions chosen directly around that problem, as was explained during National Health Executive’s inaugural #NHE365 virtual event.

Dr George Harston, Consultant Physician in Stroke and General Medicine at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, took to the digital stage to present a real-world example of AI integration within stroke care in his NHS trust.

But there was also a desire to encourage the right type of AI innovation and delivery too.

To do so, he explained: “Lots of people develop an AI solution then try to shoehorn it into a problem. That’s the wrong way around.

“Instead, we must try to understand what the benefit is and who the user is. The biggest margins are to be gained by integrating [a solution] into your system, with data algorithms only one part of the system.

“The best algorithm in the world has no value if people don’t use it, or can’t use it.”

So, how do we decide on the best options or AI solutions going forward?

Well for Dr Harston, the analogy of choosing between two cars works best: between a people carrier and a high-end sports car.

If the task that we are trying to overcome, as Dr Harston described it, was dropping off five kids at school in the rain, then the people carrier is clearly the best choice. It meets the requirements needed well, it might not be flashy but is reliable and it’s within a reasonable cost.

The high-end sports car may be desirable to the ‘petrolhead’ - which in the analogy, Dr Harston uses to refer to the specialists and senior medical professionals.

For them, flashy innovations in either niche, specialist or statistical aspects might make all the difference, but for the NHS trust or organisation, they’re perhaps unneeded or don’t justify the more expensive cost.

Ultimately, for Dr Harston, “clinical significant trumps statistical significance”.

Not yet a part of #NHE365? There's still plenty time to register for what is our year-long virtual festival of events - with all of today's great conversations available  to watch on demand:

NHE365 Register


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