Artificial intelligence could prevent thousands of amputations

Results of an AI technology trial at Barts Health NHS Trust show potential to prevent thousands of people with diabetes from limb amputation. The study has already helped identify people at risk of complications, writes Jasmine Jackson for National Health Executive.

The technology has helped to speed up the process of reviewing data analysed in a project and would now take just a few weeks to complete from start to finish. Clinicians at the trust said that it would take over 100 years to go through this process without the AI.

The trust used the technology to scan 14.2 million medical records and notes to find patients with diabetic foot disease (DFD), discovering 30% more patients with diabetes and 375% more patients with diabetic foot problems. This made the process easier for clinicians to schedule earlier treatments to save feet and limbs from amputation.

Dr Charles Gutteridge, Chief Clinical Information Officer at the trust, said: “Attempting this scale of analysis manually would have been frankly impossible. Theoretically, it would have taken one clinician over a hundred years to review that volume of documents. So not only does AI technology help us find patients who we couldn’t otherwise find, but it also saves precious clinical time. This is a first and most important step in being able to treat many patients earlier than would have been possible using a manual process to find them and preventing the serious complications that may result in amputation.”

During the subsequent trial phase, the characteristics extracted by the software in the cohort it identified, along with input from other sources, will be used to establish whether this process effectively predicts which patients are most likely to develop the severe complications associated with DFD.

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