The Guardian reports that robots could soon help hospital patients eat their meals, diagnose serious illnesses, and even help people recover from operations, in an artificial intelligence revolution in the NHS in the UK.
Machines could take over a wide range of tasks currently done by doctors, nurses, health care assistants, and administrative staff, according to a report prepared by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and eminent surgeon and former Health Minister, Lord Darzi.
Widespread adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and ‘full automation’ by the NHS could free up as much as £12.5 billion a year worth of staff time for them to spend interacting with patients, according to the report.
“Given the scale of productivity savings required in health and care – and the shortage of frontline staff – automation presents a significant opportunity to improve both the efficiency and the quality of care in the NHS,” the report says.
“Bedside robots could help patients consume food and drink and move around their ward, and even help with exercises as part of their rehabilitation from surgery.
“In addition, someone arriving at hospital may begin by undergoing digital triage in an automated assessment suite.
“AI-based systems, include machine-learning algorithms, would be used to make more accurate diagnoses of diseases such as pneumonia, breast and skin cancers, eye diseases, and heart conditions.
“Digital technology could also take over the communication of patients’ notes, booking of appointments, and processing of prescriptions.”
The report sought to allay fears of significant job losses, signaling that machines would work alongside human beings, not replace them, so patients would benefit.