IBM and the NHS: Working in Partnership

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As a new generation of technology is changing our lives there are no shortage of opportunities for technology to revolutionise the National Health Service (NHS). But it’s not just about getting the current systems working better for the 1.4 million NHS staff and over a million patients the NHS sees every day. As I discussed this year at CogX, the ambition of the NHS is to use the best cutting edge technology available as it recognises the potential to support preventative, predictive and personalised care is huge.

For over seven decades, British citizens have enjoyed uninterrupted access to NHS treatment and care. As health needs change and society develops, so the NHS has to continually move forward. Modern technology has an incredible potential to change people’s lives for the better and revolutionise the care they receive. To help make this happen the NHS partners with experts in technology, digital, data and cyber security to deliver on the Health Secretary’s tech vision and the Long Term Plan for the NHS.

IBM has an opportunity to be an essential part of the NHS digital transformation story by providing platforms for patients to self-care, supporting people to stay well and providing support for professionals who will gain from the AI capability of Watson to help them make decisions. It is an exciting time for IBM to be a key part of this healthcare story and a lot of this work is well underway. Some examples of our work include:

IBM Watson worked in collaboration with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Hartree Centre to improve patient experience. IBM adopted AI technology, analysed feedback, provided appointment and aftercare reminders make a hospital stay less daunting and more personalised for a child. Staff were able to access Watson’s capabilities to identify clinic trends based on feedback which it then addressed to improve the experience of Alder Hey’s patients during their hospital journeys.

IBM was appointed to NHS England’s Health Systems Support Framework (HSSF). The Framework was established to support the closer integration of health and social care, based upon the principles of population health management, resulting in a shift from hospitals to primary and community services. The aim is to achieve better operational and performance outcomes, better use of resources, and better experiences for patients and those involved in their care. IBM, using Watson Health and IBM Services, was the only non-NHS entity chosen to support all ten areas of the Framework.

It is not only Watson helping the NHS streamline services and improve patient experience. Using IBM’s cloud and AI capabilities over the last few years NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has been able to analyse large quantities of data to deliver a quick personalised connective donor service. To achieve equity and maximise utility within the UK’s organ donation structure, NHSBT has optimised its organ allocation schemes to ensure they are quickly adaptable and built on an agile development platform for modifying allocation schemes. Ultimately, this maximises the use of donated organs in the UK and the equity of organ allocation.

Last year marked the start of a three-year strategic relationship between IBM and NHS Digital which was established to provide a range of new and improved services to health and care organisations. IBM is working to enhance data and cyber security response, in addition to providing defence against the increasingly complex and evolving threats which are ever-present in today’s digital landscape. The additional services build upon NHS Digital’s existing Cyber Security Operations Centre and enhance NHS’s monitoring, detection and response of a myriad of security threats across the NHS.

There is much more to come as we continue to partner with the NHS on its digital transformation journey.

Chief Medical Officer (Europe), IBM Watson Health

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