The NHS is using artificial intelligence to monitor people’s eating habits in a bid to reduce ‘avoidable’ hospital admissions ahead of the busy winter period.
Kettles and refrigerators are being monitored as part of a pilot scheme being rolled out in Buckinghamshire.
The patient’s habits are reported to the healthcare team who discuss them with them to try to resolve their problem.
They can then get help in a variety of ways, including cleaning, shopping and food parcel deliveries.
Meanwhile in Somerset, four GP practices are trialling an AI system to identify patients with complex needs, at risk of hospital admission or who rarely contact the practice.
Health workers then reach out to patients to offer preventative care such as escalating treatments to specialist doctors, introducing support to avoid patients falling over, or linking them up with local voluntary groups to help avoid loneliness.
And in Birmingham, the NHS is trialling a predictive algorithm to prevent thousands of hospital or GP visits, instead offering social care measures to those most at risk.
Over the next two years, the scheme is aiming to prevent 4,500 unnecessary trips to A&E, as well as 17,000 overnight hospital stays and 23,000 GP appointments.
Record waiting lists
The schemes come as NHS managers are worried about the quality of patient care and that the government’s plans to cut waiting lists will be difficult to achieve.
The survey by NHS Providers found most of the leaders surveyed (95%) are concerned about how the health service will survive winter, with 80% expecting this year to be tougher than the last.
NHS England waiting lists have peaked with 7.77 million people waiting for an appointment – the highest since records began in 2007.
The chief executive of NHS England, Amanda Pritchard said the NHS was equipped with a “suite of tech and data solutions” ahead of winter which “is likely to be incredibly challenging”.
Ms Pritchard added: “NHS staff across the country are already feeling the pressure with record demand for A&E and ambulance services – and so these new innovations being rolled out by NHS teams are an extra and welcome addition to our winter toolkit, with more call handlers and more beds already in place.”
To prepare the NHS for its busiest time of the year, measures have been introduced including social care ‘traffic control centres’ to help speed up hospital discharges, as well as extra vehicles ambulance on the road and additional hospital beds.
In September, the government announced a £200 million boost to help the NHS treat patients as quickly as possible. Virtual services are also on the rise. Now, staff can see heart failure patients at home using apps or wearable technology to monitor them remotely.