In synergy with the NHS and Soprano, a business SMS platform provider, BT is exploring AI-enhanced patient messaging technology dubbed ‘Patient Concierge’. The key objective of this initiative is to optimize patient communication, considerably shrink the time spent on setting up appointments for diagnosis and treatment, and most importantly, minimize the frequency of double-booked or missed appointments.

At present, BT is keen on introducing the Patient Concierge concept to other health care service providers, foreseeing a great potential beyond their initial collaboration with the NHS.

Support for infusing AI into the NHS is robustly backed by the UK government. In fact, the government took a significant step in this direction by allocating £21 million in June to quicken the deployment of top-notch AI tools across hospitals. An increase in the usage of AI-backed stroke-diagnosis technology, from the current 86% to a complete integration into stroke delivery networks, has been pledged. Similarly, AI diagnostic tools are being increasingly used in analysing chest X-Rays.

BT’s proactive move was paired with a survey that sought to understand the NH’s expectations and priorities as regards healthcare tech. The survey divulged that 53% of NHS staff envision AI playing a pivotal role in streamlining clinical service delivery. They anticipate reductions in wait times and cost of patient care, and improvements in accuracy of diagnosis and patient outcomes.

“At BT we have spent the last few months listening to thousands of people inside and outside the NHS, and the message is clear: ’embrace digital tech and cut wait times’,” said Sultan Mahmud, BT’s director of healthcare.”

Alongside Patient Concierge, BT has been showcasing its virtual wards project, aiming to provide remote accessibility of healthcare services that patients would typically receive in a hospital environment.

Creating strategic alliances, particularly in healthcare, is a foundational step for BT and other telecom companies exploring fields beyond network connectivity. Towards this end, BT is joining forces with mhealth – a digital therapeutics provider focused on the treatment of chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease – as well as deepc and Axon, which aim to implement AI tools in radiology, and fast-track diagnosis through image and scan sharing respectively.

“We have the technology – what we need now is a coordinated approach,” said Mahmud. “Government, citizens, NHS leaders and tech providers must work together to focus on the investment in infrastructure and delivery mechanisms that can help the challenged workforce.”