Harefield team wins government funding for Artificial Intelligence programme

A team led by Dr William Man, consultant chest physician at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals, has been awarded significant funding from the NHS Artificial Intelligence (AI) Lab as part of the AI in Health and Care Award. The funding, with a potential value of £1.32 million, will be used to help improve the diagnosis of lung diseases in primary care.

Lung diseases are the third biggest cause of death in the UK and currently cost the NHS around £9.9 billion each year. The NHS’s Long Term Plan outlined the need to improve health outcomes for lung disease and the AI Award aims to increase the impact of AI technologies to help solve clinical and operational challenges across the NHS.

Dr Man’s team has partnered with medical device company, ArtiQ, to test the use of AI in primary care to interpret and evaluate spirometry tests – a simple test that measures the amount and speed of air that can be inhaled and exhaled to assess breathing patterns and identify lung conditions, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The use of AI software to automate the interpretation of spirometry tests could free-up clinicians’ time and reduce incorrect diagnoses.

Dr Man said: “This AI technology could be used to make quicker and more accurate diagnoses, which means patients can start treatment sooner before any lung diseases progress too far. We believe it has the potential to have a significant effect on reducing health inequalities in lung disease.”

Marko Topalovic, joint lead investigator of the project and CEO of ArtiQ, said: “We are very pleased that the NHS recognises the importance of early detection of lung disease, and the value our technology can bring to both patients and to primary care. Spirometry is the main tool to evaluate the respiratory system, and ArtiQ enhance it by bringing respiratory specialist-level of expertise through our AI software.”

He further adds: “We are delighted to be part of such a fantastic team, with partners from leading NHS and academic institutions.”

You can find out more about ArtiQ and its involvement in the project here.   

Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals are a world leader in the diagnosis, management and treatment of lung disease. The hospitals have one of the world’s largest lung disease patient populations, and as a leading European respiratory research centre, has pioneered research that has set national standards for treatment in collaboration with its partner, the National Heart and Lung Institute. Dr Man’s research team is based primarily at Harefield Hospital.

NHS AI Lab is a partnership between NHSX, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and the Accelerated Access Collaborative.