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A&E Online12th June 2019 Clinical Negligence
At JMW our clinical negligence team are no strangers to mistakes made by healthcare professionals when triaging patients at A&E. All too often symptoms of serious health issues are missed and patients are turned away or face lengthy waiting times, often exceeding four hours, which can lead to terrible and even fatal consequences.
In a bid to reduce these mistakes, University College London Hospitals teamed up with the Alan Turing Institute last year in order to utilise artificial intelligence (AI) to identify patterns in patients presenting with serious complaints and thereby provide a safer, faster system which would see patients who were most in need receiving the urgent treatment they required.
Following a pledge of extra cash for AI by Teresa May, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust will now take the use of AI in A&E further by introducing a two minute symptom check, available online which the patient can access before they attend hospital. This will alert them as to whether or not they should go to A&E, effectively replacing the triage system. The system is to be branded “A&E Online„.
The plans will also allow patients to undertake outpatient consultations via their smartphones, again preventing the need for patients to physically attend hospital if not required. It is the intention of the Trust’s chief executive, Dr David Rosser, that 70% of outpatient appointments will be held remotely via AI within two to three years.
Concerns have been raised that the use of AI in healthcare will inevitably lead to healthcare professionals no longer performing physical examinations which may put patients at risk. However, polls quoted in the NHS Long Term Plan announced earlier this year suggest that two-thirds of the public across various age ranges would be happy to undergo a virtual consultation with their doctor. Furthermore, given that recent reports suggest the NHS may be short of 70,000 nurses and 7,000 GPs within five years, this initiative may free up the resources our NHS desperately needs.