The Daily Telegraph

AI will identify people at risk of falls to ease pressure on hospitals

- By Laura Donnelly Health editor

THE NHS is to use artificial intelligen­ce to spot patients at higher risk of ending up in hospital in an effort to avert falls and preventabl­e health problems.

The schemes will use technology to scour patient records and identify those who are most likely to suffer a deteriorat­ion in their health, so that early support can be offered in an effort to keep more people out of hospital. Patients will be contacted by GPS, nurses and “health coaches” under pilot systems which will aim to provide checks on the vulnerable, with medication reviews, assessment­s of home safety and links to voluntary groups.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, said the plans aimed to ensure more people can receive care in comfort at home while also relieving pressure on hospitals as winter approaches. Hospital officials said they were worried the NHS winter crisis this year will be even worse than last year.

Pilot schemes across the country will deploy AI to analyse records. Patients might be called in for checks because their record had shown previous falls, and no recent GP appointmen­ts, or they have a condition such as diabetes or heart failure which needs closer management. ‘These measures are better for patients, who can be cared for at home, and they are good for the NHS too’ GP practices in some parts of Somerset will deploy an AI system to highlight registered patients with complex health needs. Preventive care could include offering patients food parcels, escalating care to specialist doctors or putting in support to avoid falls.

In Buckingham­shire, the NHS is using AI linked to sensors on kettles and fridges to spot changes in patients’ eating and drinking habits. The scheme claims to have solved 95 per cent of problems without escalation to clinical advisers. Ms Pritchard said: “Not only are these measures better for patients, who can be cared for at home where they feel most comfortabl­e, but they are good for the NHS too, particular­ly when we know that this winter is likely to be incredibly challengin­g.”

Separate research from the University of Oxford and funded by the British Heart Foundation has found AI could also predict if a person is at risk of having a heart attack up to a decade early and help prevent one in five cases.

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