Earlier this year, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans to increase the use of data and artificial intelligence (AI) to transform the diagnosis of chronic diseases in Britain.
The plans involve using emerging technologies to cross-reference patient genetics, habits and medical records with national data so that cancer can be easier to detect in its early stages. It is hoped this will result in at least 50,000 people each year receiving an earlier diagnosis of prostate, ovarian, lung or bowel cancer. May also stressed that successful implementation of the plans could create a whole new industry around AI in healthcare, potentially leading to new jobs.
With investment likely to increase and the government throwing its support behind AI in healthcare, the UK medical technology industry looks set to grow. But who are the star UK performers in the field of AI-enhanced health technology? Below are some of the top UK medical technology companies currently dominating the healthcare AI field.
This computer vision company aims to make the diagnosis of melanoma easier, making it exactly the kind of company the government is looking to support, with the AI initiative’s aim of 22,000 fewer people dying from cancer each year by 2033.
Skin Analytics builds a digital history of a patient’s skin so that any potentially cancerous changes, such as new skin lesions or moles, can be tracked. Patients can use the Skin Analytics smartphone app, called 4ev, for the tracking of their skin. The technology uses algorithms to measure how the skin is changing based on smartphone images taken by the individual. Treatment options can then be identified, evaluated and informed across a range of consumer health and clinical skin conditions.
Founded by British entrepreneur Ali Parsa in 2013, Babylon is a mobile healthcare app and healthcare service provider, self-described as a convenient way to access NHS healthcare. It allows healthcare professionals to have virtual conversations with patients via text messages and videos and continues to build on its AI capabilities, such as diagnosis by AI. Patients can receive referrals, prescriptions, order test kits and sick notes and book appointments with local facilities through the service.
Babylon says it covers all NHS primary care services including the management of acute and chronic diseases. It current only works in partnership with healthcare practices in London but aims to expand. In April 2017, Babylon Health announced it had raised around £50m to develop its AI diagnosis tool, which the company said could reduce the cost of a consultation by as much as 80%.
Cambridge Cognition is a neuroscience-focused digital health company which develops products and services with the aim of better understanding, detecting and treating conditions that affect brain health. It creates cognitive research technologies for mobile, wearable and online platforms which have the potential to accelerate new treatment development, improve research efficiency and measure cognitive health and wellbeing in patients on a global scale.
The company’s technology can measure digital cognitive biomarkers to track the improvement or decline in health of patients with conditions such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, depression, schizophrenia and ADHD. Its customers include global pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, contract research organisations and academic research institutions.
Founded in September 2010, DeepMind Technologies is a British AI company. It was acquired by Google in 2014 but is still has its headquarters in London. The company is a self-proclaimed world leader in AI research and its application in areas such as healthcare and energy.
The DeepMind Applied team has collaborated with clinicians in the NHS with the aim of delivering better care for numerous conditions that affect millions of people worldwide, including cancer. It aims to use AI to radically improve healthcare but also believes the scientific advances being made could tackle other global problems, such as climate change, by creating a quicker platform to find solutions.
BenevolentTech, part of the biotech business BenevolentAI, is developing an advanced AI platform to help scientists make new discoveries and redefine how they use the data available to them to drive innovation.
The technology is built on a deep learning judgement system that generates usable knowledge from vast amounts of information in scientific papers, patents, clinical trial information and from structured data sets. The technological goal is to augment human judgment so technology could assist the creative processes that characterise the very best scientists.
BenevolentAI is hoping to combine the power of machine brains with expert human brains to enable previously impossible scientific discoveries.