Alistair Hann, former CTO of Skyscanner, pictured at the

University of Edinburgh’s Bayes Centre, where the NHS’s ‘National Digital Service’ will be based

Smile please, Dr AI will see you now

A pill-sized camera combined with artificial intelligence could provide a breakthrough in cancer diagnosis


A trial is underway in the High- lands and Islands of a potentially transformative procedure that will use artificial intelligence to detect bowel cancer. A capsule containing a tiny

camera is swallowed by a pa- tient and passes through their gastrointestinal tract, capturing up to 400,000 images which are then transmitted for analysis. Te procedure is accurate, cost effective, and significantly less disruptive to patients than existing methods. Te new funding will support the devel- opment of artificial intelligence in analysing the images. Bowel cancer is the third

improve their health or quality of care as a result of getting access to the information? Te way the information is captured needs to change as well – writing things in a way that can be understood by everyone, for example, describ- ing a condition as ‘persisting for a long time’ rather than ‘chronic’ (which might trigger panic!). Tere can be some resistance to sharing patient notes and con- cerns about it causing additional work and unnecessary worry, but trials of doing this elsewhere have consistently shown these concerns not to be warranted.

What would the benefits be, to individual patient health, to the NHS, and to society in general? By getting the right informa- tion available to clinicians and care workers at the point of care, we can help them make bet- ter decisions and provide better care. We can also free up time

for those workers so that they can spend more of their time caring – and less time entering data or wrestling with IT. Citizen access to records enables people to get more involved in their care from big things such as self-management of long-term conditions to smaller things like finding out sooner about a test result. Te big value to society comes from using the platform to better understand how the system works and how specific disease pathways work. Produc- ing consistent, high quality data – anonymised and protected – that the NHS can use to improve services, and scientists can use for work such us understand- ing which medications work for which people and identifying new cures. All of those things feedback into better care and outcomes. l


most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women in Scotland, and the second most deadly with around 1,600 dying from the disease every year. Currently, invasive, time-consuming and expensive optical endoscopies are used to investigate bowel cancers and gastrointestinal diseases; 30 million in the world, 1m in the UK and 100,000 in Scotland. In using the minimally

invasive colon capsule endos- copy (CCE), a gastrointestinal investigation can be initiated by a GP, undertaken in the patient’s home, and overseen by a consultant remotely. Te pioneering programme

involves a partnership comprising NHS Highland, the Digital Health and Care Institute (DHI), the web- services provider OpenBrolly, and Danish firm CorporateHealth International (CHI), which has established a base in Inverness. Feasibility studies have

already been conducted at primary care sites in Skye and

Nurse Lesley Patience with the endoscope pill

Ullapool. Now, from their base in Aurora House on Inverness Campus, CHI and its partners are developing a new ‘patient pathway’ that is locally-based and delivers fast results in a cost-effective way. “By enabling what are

currently complex hospital investigations to be done easily at home,” explained Hagen Wenzek, CorporateHealth’s chief innovation officer, “and by allowing a patient’s medical team to quickly see very ac- curate results, we’re delivering benefits for clinicians, for public spending and, importantly, for patients. Te potential is huge.” CHI’s founders, Hamburg-

based Dr Cornelius Glismann and New York-based Dr Wenzek had been looking around the world for the right partners to develop their diagnostic pathway. An existing collaboration be- tween the University of Southern Denmark and Scotland’s Digital Health and Care Institute led to Wenzek and Glismann sharing their proposals with DHI’s chief executive George Crooks. Professor Crooks introduced

them to Professor Angus Watson at NHS Highland and James Cameron, Head of Life Sciences at Highlands

Continued on page 13 FUTURESCOT | WINTER 2018 | 11

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