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AI and imaging database aims to speed up Covid diagnosis

Hospitals and universities to use imaging to track patterns and markers of illness

A new imaging database, coupled with artificial intelligence, aims to help researchers improve the diagnosis of patients presenting with Covid-19 symptoms.

Created by NHSX, the government unit tasked with driving the digital transformation of care in the NHS, the database brings together over 40,000 CT scans, MRIs and X-rays from more than 10,000 patients across the UK during the pandemic.

The National Covid-19 Chest Imaging Database is open to hospitals and universities across the country that are using the images to track patterns and markers of illness.

It is hoped the database will speed up diagnosis of Covid-19, leading to a quicker treatment plan and greater understanding of whether the patient may end up in a critical condition, the government said.

Transforming patient care

The database is already being used by clinicians at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, who are developing an algorithm based on the images to help inform a more accurate diagnosis of patients.

It is also being used by researchers from universities in London and Bradford to develop AI tools that could help doctors improve the treatment for patients with Covid-19.

“The use of artificial intelligence is already beginning to transform patient care by making the NHS a more predictive, preventive and personalised health and care service,” said health secretary Matt Hancock.

“It is vital we always search for new ways to improve care, especially as we fight the pandemic with the recovery and beyond. This excellent work is testament to how technology can help save lives in the UK.”