An AI voice assistant healthcare model, ‘Siri for care’, is being trialled by Cera, in a bid to reduce visits to A&E departments.

The AI technology will regularly track patients’ symptoms through a series of questions, to help spot any signs of health deterioration. This is done with automated phone calls to patients using an empathetic, human-like assistant.

The medically-validated questions will be analysed using machine learning tools to monitor health conditions and identify any significant changes. If there are any concerns noted it will send an alert to carers prompting them to arrange a doctor’s appointment where necessary.

Dr Ben Maruthappu, CEO and co-founder of Cera, said: “An automated phone call could save a call to emergency services – critical when staff burnout and waiting lists are at an all-time high – by monitoring health deteriorations through smart machine learning.

“As it’s powered by artificial intelligence, this programme offers a rapidly scalable approach to care, with the scope to be rolled out to millions of patients at low cost. We are excited to see how this trial goes and the impact that it has on our carers and patients.”

Cera is already using smart technology to help improve patients’ wellbeing and health outcomes. The addition of the Siri for Care model to its toolbox has the potential to keep patients out of hospital and is both scalable and affordable.

Cera estimates it will reduce A&E visits and readmissions by more than 50% following the results of trials in other European cities. Additionally, it is expected to improve efficiencies across care delivery and potentially reduce the amount of in-person visits needed. As an example, the technology could be used to remind patients to take medications which will then free up carers for more urgent visits.

The trial has been rolled out across England and Scotland and will initially focus on identifying symptoms of flu and covid. It will also monitor for health deterioration in patients with chronic diseases.

Last winter Cera established 15 digital healthcare hubs to deliver telehealth and medication services across the UK.