“Imagine you’re a clinician deciding how a patient should be treated. Should you offer them treatment X or treatment Y? Both are effective some of the time, but it’s not clear which works best and when (or perhaps even why),” Dr. Rebecca Pope, Director of Data Science & Engineering at KPMG UK recently wrote.

Since Dr. Pope began her voluntary secondment at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) at the turn of 2019, she has been part of a team trying to help clinicians in those decision making processes. The solution she and her team proposed was GRACE, a clinical information tool powered by AI to enable clinicians to find new and meaningful answers from the electronic health records (EHRs).

“Clinicians are able to use GRACE like a ‘personal assistant’ on their phones,” explained Dr. Pope. “They can ask, ‘Please tell me, if I prescribe this, the outcome over the last 20 years for all patients ever prescribed this’ and have an almost near real-time response to the data, helping them to make sound clinical decisions.”

GRACE is also playing a part in the ongoing pandemic. “We used it to look at patients who were admitted with COVID-19 and assess the procedures and medications that were given to them,” Dr. Pope added. “Because this is a relatively novel condition, we need more information to understand what could be some of the possible outcomes for these patients in the long run,”

GRACE is one of the latest efforts GOSH undertook in its journey towards “a hospital of the future”. The management of GOSH was keen to utilize Big Data and advanced analytics as their influences on medicine and healthcare grew over the past few years. However, there was no resource or channel to formally evaluate some of these new tools and find out if they are truly suitable for the institution, their staff and patients.

So, GOSH decided to launch DRIVE (Digital Research, Informatics and Virtual Environment) in partnership with the University College London, NHS Digital and other leading experts in technology, AI and digital innovation. The centre provides a space for clinicians, UCL students and industrial partners to collaborate and rapidly translate and scale new solutions into the clinical practice. It also accelerates the research and evaluation of new AI-driven technology in search for better, safer and patient-centred care.

In fact, when DRIVE officially opened in October 2018, it was already involved in the Fizzyo project, to improve physiotherapy care for children with cystic fibrosis. Researchers would examine physical activity and airway clearance of a patient through electronically chipped devices and wearables that facilitate data transmission from patients’ homes to those who are caring for them.

In another of its projects, DRIVE worked with Microsoft to build a virtual version of the hospital in Minecraft. Children can virtually visit and explore the hospital before admission and befriend other patients to help improve their overall experience. It also deployed a solution developed by Arm to detect distressed children through cameras or microphones for any possible medical emergency so that staff can respond instantly.

“The idea behind DRIVE is to create a unique informatics hub to harness the power of the latest technologies to revolutionize clinical practice and enhance patient experience, not just within the hospital but also across the entire healthcare system,” said Professor Neil Sebire, DRIVE’s Chief Research Information Officer. He hopes to further explore the use of robots and augmented reality in clinical care for better patient engagement.

“Technology is moving so fast but we want to see how we can repurpose things that are already being developed throughout the consumer space into healthcare,” Professor Sebire added. The big advantage of that is patients and their families are already using these tools and it means the speed which we can move things into clinical practice will be much quicker.”



Photo: Nigel Cox / Bloomsbury: Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children / CC BY-SA 2.0