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What’s holding AI back? Robin Carpenter, AI Ethics and Governance Lead at the AI Centre for Valued Based Healthcare at King’s College London, identified the brakes on progress and suggested solutions ahead of the Digital Health AI and Data event, which will take place next week in London.

How can AI unleash its potential to transform UK’s National Health Service (NHS)?

To some AI is a source of hope for our healthcare system, which is grappling with

unprecedented challenges. Due to this, the government has committed to several

funding packages, such as £21 million to speed up AI deployment. It is hoped that deploying

these products will help improve the waiting times experienced by patients and pressures felt

by staff.

However, to realize AI’s potential across the NHS, we must address its fragmented nature.

This involves creating a level playing field of technical infrastructure, providing appropriate

support, and implementing better feedback mechanisms.

Robin Carpenter is AI ethics and governance lead at the AI Centre for Valued Based

Healthcare. He will be speaking at AI and Data, 30-31 October 2023, a new event by Digital

Health, the organizers of the market-leading Rewired and Summer Schools.

How can healthcare efficiency be enhanced through AI?

The healthcare infrastructure is diverse, with different entities operating under the same

umbrella. AI can do a lot to support the NHS, but the current ecosystem holds many

challenges. For example, deploying AI in one hospital does not guarantee smooth

implementation in another. You need the right technical infrastructure, the right skill sets,

and the right buy-in from staff and patients. That is a national challenge.

The local challenge for those developing AI is building algorithms that the NHS needs. You

do this by developing it within a collaborative framework that is legally compliant,

technically robust, and ethically responsible. I plan on discussing the part AI principles can

play in this at the AI and Data conference.

How can policy on AI be translated into practice in the NHS?

While the government has set policies to create a more digitally enhanced NHS, the

challenge lies in translating this ambition into reality. Assessing evidence of how principles

have been applied is essential. Fostering a culture of ethical practice with good governance

is crucial, as is updating guidance and regulation, and implementing comprehensive

monitoring mechanisms. We need to do all of this to ensure effective AI integration in


What strategies can be employed to navigate the future of clinical AI in the NHS?

To navigate the future of AI in healthcare, we must coordinate better. That means better

governance, better communication, and better feedback loops.

How can we achieve real transformational change through AI deployment in the NHS?

Real transformational change in the NHS through AI deployment requires a combination of

factors. Public debates are needed to determine what the public wants and expects when it

comes to AI in healthcare. Rather than assuming that the public wants AI in every aspect of

their care, careful deliberation is needed to determine how AI should be developed and

where it is best placed.

Updating guidance and regulation, such as the coming medical device regulation changes to

appropriately oversee AI, is essential.

Lastly, comprehensive monitoring mechanisms should be implemented to gather data on

why AI thrives in certain hospitals and not in others. This data can help target changes and

reduce disparities in AI-enabled care delivery. By fostering equitable innovation and

safeguarding the integrity of the healthcare system, we can work towards AI that benefits

the patients it serves.