The Royal United Hospital Bath receives funding for an artificial intelligence research trial

More than £830,000 has been awarded to clinicians at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust to help them work with the University of Bath and industry partners to see if artificial intelligence (AI) software can help detect and treat blood clots in the lungs of patients. It is hoped that the study will result in patients at risk of developing a pulmonary embolism – blood clots in the lungs – being diagnosed as soon as possible, which will help enable treatment earlier and improve treatment outcomes for the patients conferred by the Accelerated Access Collaboration in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research after RUH’s multidisciplinary research team successfully competed for the NHS’ Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award, which provides funding for the most promising AI projects affecting the NHS support long-term plan. Pulmonary embolism is a common condition that occurs when blood clots cause a blockage in the pulmonary arteries. This can be a life-threatening emergency that can result in death if not caught early and treated quickly with blood-thinning medication. A pulmonary embolism can also cause long-term problems if clots don’t completely dissolve, leaving scar tissue that prevents free flow of blood to the lungs. This can leave patients breathless and eventually lead to heart failure due to the pressure build-up, which in turn can be fatal. This long-term condition is known as chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH). The sooner CTEPH is detected and treated, the sooner potentially life-saving treatments can begin. Radiologists at RUH will work with leading healthcare AI companies AIDOC and IMBIO to analyze CT scans of patients suspected of having a pulmonary embolism to determine if the diagnosis of blood clots can be made faster and more accurately. Additionally, RUH will continue its successful partnership with the University of Bath to refine its own in-house AI tool to detect CTEPH early. Leading the study, Dr said: “We are excited about this prestigious funding to explore ways to improve outcomes for the people we serve with pulmonary embolism, a common condition that can be life-threatening. We hope that by working with our AI partners using the latest artificial intelligence tools, we can help save lives and deliver the best value for money for the NHS.” Professor Jay Suntharalingam, Director of the Bath Pulmonary Hypertension Service and co investigators said: “RUH provides specialized treatment for pulmonary hypertension to around four million people in our region. I am delighted that we will continue our collaboration with the University of Bath to develop our own AI tool. It will aid in the detection of an important chronic complication of pulmonary embolism that is potentially curable if caught early.” Andrew Cookson, Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath, said: “I am delighted that we will be able to continue the development of our AI-based technology for the early detection of CTPEH. This work is the result of close collaboration between my team at the University of Bath and clinicians at RUH since 2020, with clinical and patient needs embedded from the start. With this funding, we will be able to develop the software in a way that brings it much closer to commercialization and delivers improved patient outcomes.” Jonathan Rodrigues concluded, “I would like to thank everyone involved in the successful tender and who will continue to support the study – this is truly a game changer in the way we diagnose and treat pulmonary embolism.”

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