Published: 12:01, 15 July 2020
| Updated: 13:10, 15 July 2020
Advanced predictive technology is being rolled out across the NHS in a bid to help hospitals forecast coronavirus and direct resources where they are needed most.
The new Joint Biosecurity Centre is being asked to give the NHS locally advance warnings of any uptick in coronavirus admissions with the support of a machine learning-powered tool.
It is designed to warn hospitals so that staff, beds and other equipment such as oxygen or ventilators can be smoothly diverted amid the ongoing pandemic.
The technology, built by AI firm Faculty, will aid local teams in balancing their priorities, helping clinicians and scientists to model and predict hospitalisations up to three weeks in advance.
This is achieved by analysing data from previous outbreaks, such as bed use and early warning indicators such as 111 call volumes, to model what might happen in the future.
It comes as the NHS works to resume routine services that had to pause during the peak of the outbreak.
“The Covid pandemic has shown the power of technology to improve patient care,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
“These innovative tools will help arm the NHS with the insight it needs to predict hospitalisations weeks in advance and ensure hospitals are prepared.
“This is good news for patients and staff that puts the NHS at the forefront of cutting-edge coronavirus care – and demonstrates the power that data has to protect the public and save lives.”
The tool is part of the wider NHS Covid-19 Data Store project, which aims to give local and national health leaders vital information needed to tackle the virus.
It has already helped the NHS at a national level get a better understanding of bed capacity and availability across the country, as well as monitoring ventilators and oxygen supply.
To protect patient confidentiality all data used is either pseudonymised, anonymised or aggregated and therefore does not identify any individual.
Indra Joshi, director of AI at NHSX, said: “As we continue to deal with the greatest public health emergency in a century, the NHS continues to rise to the challenge, and by using this leading technology, we will help support frontline staff in their ongoing mission to save as many lives as they can.
“This tool helps services plan the bringing back on of services for other patients safely, while flexing capacity locally for Covid care.”