The NHS Embrace AI & Medical Technology.

It has been announced this week that the cities of Leeds, Oxford, Coventry, Glasgow and London will be the home of 5 revolutionary medical technology centres due to open across the UK in 2019.

They will use artificial intelligence to speed up disease diagnosis and form part of the Government’s drive to use AI to improve healthcare and treatments.  The software will digitise scans and biopsies as well as use tools which are aimed to speed up the rate of diagnosis.

Healthcare is just one area of industry that is set to be transformed through developments in Artificial Intelligence.  Health Secretary, Matt Hancock believes that “Artificial intelligence will play a crucial role in the future of the NHS” and that it will be of benefit to both the physical and pastoral care we receive.  He goes on to say that the new systems will “speed up diagnoses, improve patient outcomes, make every pound go further and give clinicians more time with their patients”.

AI has become increasingly more prevalent in all areas of medicine and healthcare.  The NHS has had to partner with some of the biggest names in tech order to flourish and evolve.  Moorfields Eye Hospital have teamed up with Google’s DeepMind, for example. They are implementing an algorithm that will enable computers to analyse high-resolution 3D scans of the back of the eye to detect more than 50 eye conditions.   Great Ormond Street Hospital have also paired up with Cambridge based tech giant, Arm. They are using AI in the shape of smart “recognition cameras” to protect the welfare of their staff on their massive site. This move will install tech able to detect the location of staff members in a bid to improve operations and increase efficiency.  Doctors and nurses will be tracked on site, while also keeping track of visitors as they pass from the reception area to the wards.

The £50m project has been funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and will be located in both university and NHS facilities.

Health Insurance Company Use Tech to Reward Consumers.

10,000 steps per day is the goal.  The aim that keeps us glued to our smartwatches each day as we pound the pavements in an effort to hit the magic number.  This week it was announced that a South African Insurance company will use our recorded steps logged via wearable tech to reward consumers who can demonstrate they have improved their lifestyle.  

The company are Vitality; an arm of Johannesburg based insurer, Discovery.  They offer life and health insurance services with a difference. Their clinically-based, evidence-driven programme uses technology to incentivise people to change their behaviour.  Financial rewards are offered to those customers who record over 10,000 daily steps or whose heart rate shows they do 40 minutes of intensive physical exercise at least three times each week.  

Neville Koopowitz, the CEO of Vitality stated that “the output of that behaviour change is that people can lower their health risk and lower their risk of morbidity and mortality.”  Incentives come in all shapes & sizes. They range from free coffees at Starbucks to free monthly subscriptions to Amazon Prime and Premiership football tickets. Long-standing members who can demonstrate a sustained improvement in their lifestyle over time can qualify for a Platinum, Gold or Silver membership scheme – and enjoy a reduction in their insurance premiums.

He goes on to say that the scheme represents the future of insurance.  Just as the automotive insurance industry are increasingly installing Smart equipment in customers’ vehicles to monitor how fast and safely they drive, health insurers are adopting the same approach.  He says “We are in the business of underwriting people’s lifestyles”.

Vitality, had a turnover of £670m last year and represents about 15 per cent of Discovery’s global total.  Alongside the “steps” arm of the programme, they are looking at new opportunities as health monitoring technology grows more sophisticated.   Technology that monitors sleep patterns, for example, could be valuable to insurers and in the future, there may be ways to better monitor the nutrition and diet of consumers.

Critics of the scheme have highlighted the potential for fraud.  Fitness trackers given to more active friends for example not covered by the scheme or those apps which allow self-reported activity leave room for misreporting or misrepresenting of data.  This being said, Koopowitz believes that in the main, the tech is “being used in the right way”.

Tesla Name Robyn Denholm as Musk’s Replacement.

It had previously been reported that James Murdoch was the front-runner of those set to replace Musk as the Chair of the electronic car manufacturer, Tesla.  However, it is Robyn Denholm who has taken the title!  She will assume her new position immediately, with the role becoming full time once she has completed her 6 month notice period at Australian Telecom giant, Telstra.  

Earlier in the autumn, Musk agreed to step down as chair for three years following a deal with the US Securities and Exchange Commission over comments he made on social media about moving the firm toward private ownership.  Through the tweets, the financial regulator accused Musk of fraud and of misleading investors. They fined him and the company $20m each.

Denholm is not new to Tesla and can boast quite a portfolio.  She has been on the Tesla board as an independent director since 2014 and has enjoyed senior roles at other Silicon Valley tech companies.  Previously, she has held the position of CFO at Juniper Networks, Sun Microsystems, and Japanese carmaker Toyota.

Of the appointment, Musk has said; “Robyn has extensive experience in both the tech and auto industries, and she has made significant contributions as a Tesla board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company. I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.”

This positive sentiment is only underlined by Ms Denholm herself when she added, “I believe in this company, I believe in its mission and I look forward to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value.”

Samsung Opens Bixby to Developers

It appears that Samsung are adopting an aggressive strategy to catch up with their voice assistant competitors. At their conference in San Fransisco on Wednesday, Eui-Suk Chung announced that they are opening their voice assistant, Bixby, to third-party developers. As noted by ZDNet, ‘it’s one of three moves the company is taking — along with expanding Bixby to more devices and expanding support for more languages — to increase Bixby’s footprint.’ The tech giant will offer the developers access to the full suite of their tools (Bixby Developer Studio) for writing Bixby-friendly code.

It is a major step that Samsung is taking to deliver Bixby to a range of their products – from washing machines to smartwatches and tablets. At the moment, ‘Bixby is available in the Samsung S8 and S9 smartphones, smart televisions, the Samsung Family Hub smart refrigerator, and soon in the Galaxy Home smart speaker.’ (Venturebeat) 

About the author: I manage the recruitment for a range of digital roles for my clients on both a retained and contingency basis. I specialise in senior and confidential appointments, always giving a first class representation of a client’s employer brand.

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