NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) has launched an framework for artificial intelligence (AI) software that supports stroke treatment.

The Artificial Intelligence (AI) Software in Neuroscience for Stroke Decision Making Support Framework is targeted at software that supports the analysis of medical imaging for ischaemic or haemorrhagic strokes; this enables clinicians to diagnose and treat strokes faster and more reliably.

It is the first-of-its-kind and has been designed to remove barriers to procurement as well as creating a simple, compliant commercial solution offering assurance to buyers.

NHS SBS worked with expert stroke clinicians and policy leaders to develop the framework. NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI), NHSX, the Care Quality Commission and the Academic Health Science Network were also involved.

Adam Nickerson, NHS SBS senior category manager for digital and IT, said: “This use of AI is a prime example of how new technologies have the potential to transform NHS patient care, speeding up diagnosis and treatment times by ensuring that expert clinical resource is targeted where it has the greatest impact for the patient.

“By identifying areas in which technology can be used to help speed up patient pathways, clinicians have more time for providing personalised care and patient waiting lists – exacerbated by the pandemic, are reduced.”

The use of AI within stroke detection can reduce the interpretation of imaging to seconds, as opposed to up to 30 minutes when using manual methods by a doctor.

NHS SBS introduced the Patient/Citizen Communications and Engagement Solutions framework at the end of last year, and in August 2021 announced a £250million framework was to be launched that would signpost NHS organisations to intelligent automation solutions.

Darrien Bold, national digital and AI lead for stroke, NHSEI, said: “We are already seeing the impact AI decision-support software is having on stroke pathways across the country, and the introduction of this framework will drive forward further progress in delivering best-practice care where rapid assessment and treatment are of the essence.

“Over the past 18 months, the heath and care system has been compelled to look to new technologies to continue providing frontline care, and the stroke community has embraced new ways of working in times of unprecedented pressure. This framework agreement will be of great benefit as we implement the NOSIP – driving better outcomes, better patient experience and better patient safety, using new technology quickly, safely and innovatively.”