Digital healthcare transformation – the role of AI in self-assessment

The fifth in the “Connect Health Change” webinar series took place on Wednesday 18 November, to make and embed transformation in healthcare. The topic covered digital healthcare transformation and the role of AI in self-assessment.

27 November 2020

The fifth in the “Connect Health Change” webinar series took place on Wednesday 18 November, which aims to make and embed transformation in healthcare. The topic covered digital healthcare transformation and the role of AI in self-assessment.

The TOPOL review sets out the plan to make the NHS ready for the digital revolution and deliver on the vision to make the NHS the world leader in using innovative technology to benefit patients. Some professions will be more affected than others, but the impact on patient outcomes should in all cases be positive and patients should be empowered to participate more fully in their own care.

The webinar was chaired by Helen Robson, Clinical Integration and Transformation Lead, Connect Health; Associate Lecturer, Physiotherapy, University of Teesside and Honorary Chair NE CSP Regional Network. She remarked

As we continue to rely on technology with 90% of the population regularly accessing the internet, only 25% of people have registered for digital access with their GP, so we face the challenge of how we work together to meet everyone’s needs. Digital healthcare technologies, digital medicine, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are a new means of addressing the big healthcare challenges of the 21st century.

The webinar heard from: Abi Phillips, Head of Innovation – Economy Skills & Natural Resources Group, Welsh Government, who described the rationale behind the Welsh Government’s Digital Solutions Fund. She explained:

COVID has accelerated pick up of digital initiatives and we should maintain that pace. In Wales we’ve invested a lot in upskilling people and we’ve got devices out into the local populations but human interaction is still very important – we must not forget the more digitally disadvantaged citizens who need access.

Zoe Brewster, Assistant Head of Physiotherapy, Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board went on to discuss the practicalities of how the Digital Solutions Fund has enabled AI to offer fast-tracked access to healthcare.

We are embedding PhysioNow®, powered by Phio, into the MSK pathway. It is a clinically led chat-bot that is bilingual, replaces paper-based systems, is available 24/7 and is very interactive. The pilot has the potential to free up 167 hours of clinician time and 42 hours of admin time. The evidence is also demonstrating that 44% of referrals are from patients over the age of 60 with our oldest patient being 92, and that 33% of patients used PhysioNow outside of working hours. Of these 27% of patients had an urgent outcome and due to the 24/7 nature of PhysioNow were able to access immediate advice and care.

Peter Grinbergs, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer, EQL discussed the appropriate use of AI in MSK medicine and the potential to revolutionise healthcare practices, customer experience and health outcomes.

30% of GP appointments are MSK related, which equates to 15 million hours of GP time annually, and 6.8 million physio appointments. Digital transformation can reduce waiting times, increase capacity and deliver cost effective interventions. We can use AI to gain insights and this will create efficiencies – engaging users in a personal and meaningful way. In the future we aim to turn the tide on reactive healthcare – we need proactive solutions to identify risk factors long before they become problematic.

Dominic Cushnan, Head of AI Imaging, NHSX, explained the art of getting AI right and the work of the NHS AI Lab.

The AI lab funds and supports health and social care projects to bring AI power to improve outcomes. As an example, the National COVID-19 Chest Imaging Database is a UK database of X-rays, CT and MRI images from UK patients. It is being used to better understand the virus to enable better care. The data from the NCCID will be used to develop AI products that can predict disease progression, determine a risk score based on images of COVID patients and determine which patients might need ventilation.

The webinar concluded with a question to all speakers – What’s the best thing about digital transformation?

  • Putting the power back into the hands of the patients – they can choose how and when they can access healthcare
  • From a clinician perspective – better work-life balance
  • Allowing people to move into a more value added workplace, take away some of the manual labour and let them focus on the more important stuff – the patient
  • Helping and enabling clinicians to do the best they can to support the patient with limited resources.

Watch the webinar again, which includes further insight from the speakers including a full Q&A session, and read more about the speakers here:

Wednesday 18 November 2020

View our speaker’s biographies



Read our latest blog – An innovative digital self-assessment tool -PhysioNow® powered by Phio– is supporting MSK patients in these challenging times:



Read more about transformation at Connect Health: