The NHS faced 1.4 million 111 calls in the month of November (Half of 111 callers are hanging up as pressure piles onto NHS call handlers, Shropshire star) , resulting in an immense amount of pressure on staff. To counteract this, the NHS is trialling a chat bot called the ‘AI Triage’ bot. The chatbot will now answer NHS 111 inquiries from more than a million Londoners, as the health system looks for new ways to manage the growing health burden. The NHS has announced a deal between themselves and Babylon Health, which includes the testing of this 111 NHS chat line powered by Babylon. The app is essentially a chatbot driven by clinically-based algorithms that will triage patients without human intervention, based on reported symptoms. NHS England expects that this process will take as little as two minutes. Based purely on its self-building algorithm, the app can refer someone to an appointment the next day – using the symptoms given to the app by the patient. 
The NHS is also under strain when it comes to providing on-site patient diagnoses in a timely manner. This has led the NHS to implement a new AI-influenced service known as Digital Therapeutics (DTx). The NHS are working in collaboration with The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to support a new digitally enabled therapy assessment programme, where up to 14 digital therapy products will be assessed for use in the NHS. This allows people to receive data to an app on their phones from devices in the hospital like insulin pumps, blood glucose meters, and wearable gadgets. It also enables the person to receive psychological therapy with the assistance of a professional therapist via the app; releasing the stresses of someone having to travel long distances and the additional burden on hospital staff. 
The NHS is estimated to be understaffed by approximately 100,000 roles (NHS ‘Dangerously’ short of 100,000 staff, BBC NEWS). This is a major issue as it not only adds stress on the staff, but also patients have to wait longer for a service that may then be rushed. This is probably the biggest underlying issue at the NHS as it has negative ripple effects on the system as a whole. However, this has meant that there are multiple organisations working in unison to solve this. IoMT/AI is seen as a viable option to move forward with, as one company named ‘Infogrid’ is working on multiple fronts to try and automate many areas which would normally require a human’s laborious touch. Infogrid entirely removes the reliance on archaic, paper-based processes and manual on-site daily checks. Instead, NHS trusts can access their sensor data and manage all sites remotely and centrally within the Infogrid platform. The audit process is also streamlined through Infogrid’s reporting features that enable users to access sensor data and recall any notes created in response to specific incidents. This is a huge time saver and allows nurses and other healthcare staff to focus on more important tasks and patient care.

Another solution to further increase efficiency within the NHS is our own approach, using Ultra-wide band (UWB) technology (IoT) for real time monitoring of patients and staff to mitigate waiting time related problems and lack of movement efficiency. SQ is at the forefront of the use of UWB technology and is already working with hospitals not only within the NHS but across the globe. We do this by installing data capture hardware directly into the site. Patients and staff are handed badges which communicate with the allotted hardware which stores and sends data to be read and processed. These insights are shared with the hospital to see where improvements can be made, with help from our Insight Consultants to build an action plan. Resulting in a more efficient clinical environment, benefitting the patients and staff.

There are many other instances where IoMT is being implemented into the NHS, a few examples include: the use of 5G, real-time tracking of devices like wheelchairs, defibrillators, etc. Also, the use of heart rate monitoring, robotic surgery, and many more.

Charlie Townsend
Onsite Technician, Spatial Quotient