At the Digital Healthcare Show 2024, Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust CIO Andrew Raynes highlighted six actions for NHS trusts to take on their AI journeys.

In an opening keynote in the Digital Keynote Theatre at ExCeL London, titled ‘Avoiding the hype: There’s more to digital maturity than expensive AI’, Raynes presented six actions that he believed are vital to a trust’s successful AI journey. These were:

  1. Develop process, system and governance (clinical safety)
  2. Understand and prioritise AI opportunities and get buy-in
  3. Nurture the deployment team, define key performance indicators and monitor impact
  4. Ensure data is clean, relevant and unbiased – review/update policies
  5. Carry out point-of-care testing, start small before scaling
  6. Take actions to mitigate bias, ethical, privacy, safety issues

Raynes’s speech was heavily focused on AI because “everybody is talking about it”. He posed the question of whether AI is a technology goldrush or a solution looking for a problem, before pointing out the clear benefits of it.

He said that integrating AI into clinical workflows will enable healthcare professionals to make important clinical decisions and provide better patient care while minimising waiting times. The Royal Papworth CIO also explained that it enables clinical staff to analyse data and improve diagnoses, complete tasks quicker, as well as reduce repetition and medical errors.

Alongside outlining the benefits of AI, he also dispelled three popular AI myths: that it will replace humans in many jobs, that it understands and thinks like a human, and that it is always accurate and unbiased.

Raynes also touched on cyber attacks in healthcare, of which he said he has “seen more in the last few months than I can remember”. In the last year, cyber attacks against healthcare organisations have risen by 95 percent, he explained, with healthcare the third highest industry for such attacks in the last quarter of the year.

Improving digital maturity by getting the basics right

Elsewhere on the show floor on day one of the event, a session in the System Efficiency and Workforce Transformation Theatre titled ‘Doing more with less: Improving digital maturity by getting the basics right’, Emma Hollings played down the phrase ‘digital maturity’, saying that it “has always been a phrase I have found odd” and suggesting it made technology sound old.

The deputy director planning and analytics at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust was joined by Carolyn Crooks, associate director of transformation and delivery at Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust in the session, which was chaired by Neil Roberts, managing director at Science & Engineering Health Technologies Alliance LTD (SEHTA).

Crooks spoke about the federated data platform (FDP) saying that “everyone is talking about it at the moment”, while also explaining that digital systems must improve at trusts if patients are to have a better experience.

“I believe patients are at a disadvantage due to the digital systems at their trust,” she said. Crooks thinks organisations have to find a solution to extracting data, because that’s where the answers lie.

“All the answers to the questions we have lie in the data we have; we just have to work out how to get it out.”