British public would be happy to use AI to relieve NHS pressures
British public would use AI to relieve NHS pressures

British public would be happy to use AI to relieve NHS pressures

A survey published this week suggests that the British public’s attitudes to healthcare technologies is  changing dramatically.

The study, which was conducted in March by Censuswide and health tech start-up Ada, asked 2,000 people about the role technology plays in healthcare.

A staggering 70 percent of people said they find that GP services less accessible than five years ago, with the NHS under enormous pressure to meet demand for its services.

Rise of tech

But while patients are understandably worried about the decline of NHS services, they’re optimistic that technology can be used to relieve pressures on health professionals.

Seventy percent of respondents indicated that they’d be happy to use AI technologies to help doctors save time and resources, especially in terms of primary care services. However, their data would have to be secure. More than two thirds (69 percent) resort to using the Internet to diagnose medical problems, although only 39 percent believe that the information they get in this way to be accurate.

On the other end of the spectrum, nearly a third (29 percent) of respondents said they fear using using online diagnosis resources. Around 20 percent said such information confuses them and 20 percent said it doesn’t relieve their worries.

Interest in AI and robots

When it comes to artificial intelligence being used in healthcare, there’s certainly a lot of interest from a tech-savvy public. Over two thirds (68 percent) said they’d discuss their medical concerns with an intelligent machine.

They’d want a few things back in return, though. Namely, they’d like more time with their GP afterwards and would expect diagnoses to be more accurate.

Respondents were also asked about robots replacing humans, and only 18 percent said they’d like to see this happen. A large number of them (44 percent) said they’d rather deal with human healthcare professionals.

Interestingly, just four in ten patients said that human GPS are more accurate than artificial intelligence in making diagnoses.

Improving the NHS

Dr Claire Novorol, chief medical officer of Ada and a former NHS doctor, said: “It is clear that the British public is keenly aware of the growing pressure on the NHS.

“Perhaps because of this, patients are increasingly turning to online tools to get medical information – unfortunately, with mixed results.

“While search engines can be a fantastic resource, they are no substitute for expert medical advice and our research finds that trying to self-diagnose using the web often leaves people feeling even more confused and worried.”

Read more: Digital tech keeps Brits fighting fit, says TCS

Digitization is crucial

Andy Grant, senior head of big data and high performance computing at IT services company Atos UK and Ireland, said that digitization in the healthcare world is fundamental and that IoT can help.

“Currently, demand for healthcare services is initiated, for the most part, at the point where we phone our GP or attend A&E when something is wrong. The shift – the tipping point – is to prevent that demand happening in the first place,” he said.

“The opportunity – and the challenge – is to dramatically reduce the burden of treatment, particularly in hospitals. That’s why digital transformation is so critical. Technology will be an enabler and a catalyst for the seismic shift in citizen behavior.

“The Internet of Things is a step change. With citizens connected, monitored and potentially prescribed medicines machine-to-machine, many of these extraordinary opportunities and transformations will be driven by new apps.”

Read more: UK start-up Babylon raises $60m for AI-based doctor app