NHS England chief executive hails new era of personalised medicine


NHS England’s chief executive has hailed the “beginning of a new era of personalised medicine” during his speech at the Health and Care Innovation Expo.

Addressing a packed theatre in Manchester on 5 September, Simon Stevens celebrated how much had changed in the NHS since he joined it as a graduate – 30 years ago this week, he told delegates – thanks to innovations such as the development of gene therapy.

He added: “Progress will continue over the next few years, we are seeing the beginning of a new era of personalised medicine.”

He also enthused about increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

In particular Stevens singled out DeepMind’s recent research with Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Researchers claimed to have trained a machine learning system to identify eye diseases from scans.

The AI system has been designed to identify 10 features of eye diseases from optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans, and recommend an appropriate referral.

Stevens said such research helps with “diagnostic bottlenecks” that can occur within the NHS, telling audience members that they will be seeing “a lot more of that over the next five years”.

Meanwhile in his speech to the conference, health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy announced an initial consultation on a new code of conduct for data-driven health and care technologies such as artificial intelligence. He said the code will serve to set out the “rules of engagement” between industry and the health and care system.

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