The NHS is facing record demand for services. According to The Health Foundation, the NHS waiting list for elective treatment in England has almost tripled in size over the last decade to 7.7 million. And latest figures show there were a record 2.35 million attendances at A&E across England in March this year.

We know that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to increase productivity and support the NHS to meet this increasing demand, but what is discussed less is the opportunity the technology offers to also improve patient and clinician experience.

From reducing bed days through improved triage systems, to increasing diagnosis efficiency to enable faster treatment, to removing manual checks, to recording patient notes in real time so clinicians can focus more on the patient in front of them; the real impact of the productivity gains that AI technologies bring to health settings almost always benefit patients.

Read about some of the ways in which, across the Network, we are supporting new technologies that are not only increasing productivity, but are improving patient care.

Prioritising those most in need

Health Innovation North West Coast supported Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care System to become the first to implement C2-Ai’s Patient Tracking List (PTL) triage system, to support with their elective recovery.

While there is no shortage of data available to clinical teams, it is often difficult to optimise the use of this information to prioritise care and reduce waiting lists. Utilising C2-Ai’s PTL triage system resulted in the trust saving over 1,000 excess bed-days per 1,000 patients, due to less harm being caused and fewer unplanned admissions. The technology automatically recognises a clinical risk, meaning the patients who are in most need of care are prioritised and able to receive the care they need, at the right time.

There was also up to 15 minutes consultant administrative time saved per patient per triage, freeing up clinicians to spend more time with other patients; and a 27% reduction in patients waiting 52-weeks or more during the first six weeks of deployment and 100% reduction in the avoidable cancellation rate meaning patients who are most in need of treatment don’t wait as long.

Supporting earlier diagnosis

In the North East, which has some of the highest rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD) morbidity in the country, a new medical device which uses AI is automating the most time-consuming and complex parts of a scan. Traditionally, the process following the scan to enable a CVD diagnosis requires a highly specialised doctor to manually check for disease in hundreds of images per patient and make multiple, manual measurements. The Aiatella technology, being supported by Health Innovation North East North Cumbria, was found to perform this 100 times faster, increasing clinical efficiency and capacity, and meaning that more patients can receive their results more quickly, which in turn reduces their risk of heart attack or stroke.

Speeding up access to life-saving treatment

Historically, CT brain scans are reviewed by a specialist in limited locations but, through an e-stroke technology developed by using AI, high-quality brain scan images can be seen within a few minutes of being processed, anywhere and at any time.

Health Innovation Oxford and Thames Valley supported five Integrated Stroke Networks and the NHS England South East regional team to roll out and evaluate the technology, which is helping stroke clinicians make swift decisions relating to transfer and treatment.

This includes ensuring access to mechanical thrombectomy (MT), a life-changing treatment which can reduce disability and prevent or limit long-term care needs in patients with the most severe strokes. Through use of the technology in the Oxford region, the number of MTs carried out increased from 37 in 2019 to 186 in 2022, achieving the NHS Long Term Plan target for the first time.

Reducing administrative burden

An innovation identified by Network colleagues in South London being piloted at Great Ormond Street Hospital uses ambient voice technology (AVT) to capture patient-clinician interactions in real time, automatically creating a summary of key points that can be added to patient records. If utilised, with consent, across the 1.75 million daily patient appointments, this would save thousands of clinical hours and dramatically change the capacity of the NHS. However, it also can improve the patient experience as clinicians are able to just focus on them, rather than try and type notes on a screen during their interaction.

Artificial intelligence, real patient impact

There is no doubt that increased use of AI will support the NHS to meet the 2% increase in productivity proposed in the Spring Budget earlier this year. But AI has the potential to drive huge improvements in patient experience of the NHS, which is equally vital at a time when confidence in the service is the lowest it has ever been. The positive impact that embracing AI could have on patient experience and outcomes should not be overlooked in the discussion.

We’re passionate about supporting healthcare systems across the country to embrace new technologies and have experts across the network who are skilled and experienced to support with the safe deployment of innovations. Find out how we can support health and care providers meet challenges with tested and adoption-ready digital and AI innovations.

Cheryl Crocker is National Patient Safety Director at the Health Innovation Network.






  • Meet the innovator: Kerstyn Comley, Tellmi

    Tellmi is a social enterprise innovation which aims to address the growing demand for mental health services and tackle health inequalities for young people. It is a digital peer support app available launched in 2017 by psychologist Suzi Godson PhD and engineer Kerstyn Comley PhD. Kersytn explains how Tellmi works. Tell us about the innovation. [...]

  • How embracing Artificial Intelligence improves the human experience

    The NHS is facing record demand for services. According to The Health Foundation, the NHS waiting list for elective treatment in England has almost tripled in size over the last decade to 7.7 million. And latest figures show there were a record 2.35 million attendances at A&E across England in March this year. We know [...]

  • Ten principles of health equity for innovators

    “Health equity is the attainment of the highest level of health for ALL people. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and social determinants of health — and to eliminate disparities in health and health care.” ( Within the NHS there [...]