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AI to reduce ‘avoidable’ hospital admissions this winter

Artificial intelligence (AI) will help NHS spot patients at higher risk of ending up in hospital to avert health problems and reduce pressures on A&E.

NHS pilot schemes will use AI to analyse records to work out which patients are at greatest risk of hospital admission.

Patients will be contacted by GPs and nurses, who will provide preventative care such as offering vulnerable patients food parcels, escalating care to specialist doctors, putting in support to avoid falls or linking them with a local voluntary group to help avoid loneliness.

‘This suite of tech and data solutions ahead of winter demonstrates how NHS staff across the country are innovating every step of the way, maximising the use of the latest technology and AI to help patients but also significantly reducing the number of avoidable A&E attendances,’ said Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive.

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NHS teams in Birmingham are piloting an approach which uses AI to predict the top 5% patients at risk of potential hospital admissions.

Staff check in with these patients to offer social care assessments, medication reviews or other social prescribing measures to avoid A&E admissions.

Over the next two years, the scheme aims to prevent 4,500 unnecessary A&E attendances, 17,000 overnight hospital stays, and free up 23,000 GP appointments.

‘Using data more smartly and harnessing the power of AI is now crucial in supporting the highest risk patients,’ said Chris Holt, chief transformation officer at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

‘By identifying those complex patients – most likely to attend or be admitted to hospital over winter – it means we can step in much sooner and give them support that’s personalised for them,’ he said.

With recent data revealing 7.7 million people on NHS waiting lists in England, the highest since 2007, these innovations come at a critical time.

‘NHS staff across the country are already feeling the pressure with record demand for A&E and ambulance services – and so these new innovations being rolled out by NHS teams are an extra and welcome addition to our winter toolkit, with more call handlers and more beds already in place,’ said Ms Pritchard.