January 18, 2023
Pictura Bio CEO, Alex Batchelor, Explains How AI Can Cut Waste in Healthcare
In a recent article published in Business Reporter, Pictura Bio Co-founder and CEO, Alex Batchelor, discusses how artificial intelligence (AI) can transform healthcare in the UK by reducing waste in the NHS and improving efficiency.
A combination of rising cases of respiratory infections, an ageing population, staff shortages, tighter budgets, the post-pandemic backlog and the cost of living crisis have created the perfect storm for another worst winter on record for the NHS. The immense pressure has caused services to deteriorate, resulting in poor patient outcomes.
Batchelor explains that one of the key ways to address the shortcomings of the NHS is to focus on cutting waste. In particular, unnecessary GP appointments, occupation of hospital beds by people who don’t require medical support or who are waiting to be discharged, and money spent on unnecessary medication prescriptions, such as antibiotics.
The demand on the NHS is only going to increase as the population ages because older people have more chronic health conditions. It is essential to improve the efficiency of the NHS in order to keep up with this growing demand so that we can continue to provide effective patient care.
According to Batchelor, much of the waste in the NHS is due to the fact that doctors don’t have enough information about the health status of patients. AI diagnostic tools that can rapidly and accurately test for multiple infectious diseases give doctors a complete picture of what illness a patient has. Using this they could prioritise those who urgently need care, cutting waiting lists for treatment. These tools could also help reduce unnecessary GP appointments and hospital admissions, so that care is more easily accessible for seriously ill people, and prevent unneeded medication prescriptions.
As well as assisting with patient diagnoses, AI technology can automate processes that are repetitive or admin-heavy, freeing up medical staff so they can focus on delivering patient care. Other AI technology like wearables could also help identify patients whose health status is deteriorating so that they can get more timely care.
However, Batchelor explains there are a number of challenges that slow down the digitalisation of the NHS, such as navigating safety guidelines that were written before AI was invented. AI is also fairly new to doctors, who are wary of putting their trust in an unknown system out of fear it may harm their patients.
But if we can overcome these challenges, Batchelor strongly believes AI technology could revolutionise the NHS and offer a way out of the current crisis by saving money, easing the workload of NHS staff and increasing the availability of medical care to those who need it most.