UK’s National Health Service using AI to predict to demand for ventilators and beds

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Posted on: April 21, 2020 6:43 pm EDT

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is making use of artificial intelligence to forecast demand for ventilators and intensive care beds during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Yesterday, the NHS started testing the COVID 19 Capacity Planning and Analysis System (CPAS) at four hospitals in the United Kingdom. CPAS is a predictive system the makes use of machine learning to help the NHS better allocate resources during the coronavirus crisis.

By learning and improving through experience, without having to be explicitly programmed, CPAS could tell hospitals in advance when it expects intensive care beds to reach capacity. This would give the hospital time to source additional resources or reroute patients to nearby facilities.

If the COVID 19 Capacity Planning and Analysis System proves effective at the four initial hospitals, the NHS will consider rolling it out across the United Kingdom. Given the versatility of the Capacity Planning and Analysis System, NHS Digital could export the technology to other countries.

Professor Jonathan Benger, the NHS Digital Chief Medical Officer, noted, “CPAS allows individual hospitals to plan ahead, ensuring they can give the best care to every patient.”

“At the same time, the wider NHS can ensure that the ventilators, other equipment and drugs that each intensive care unit will need are in place at exactly the time they are required.”

Even after the pandemic runs its course, CPAS could predict how long patients need to stay in the hospital with great accuracy. This would help with discharge planning and demand for intensive care.

NHS Digital data scientist and a University of Cambridge research team developed CPAS. To comply with privacy legislation, the system was trained using depersonalized data from Public Health England.

The United Kingdom has 129,000 positive COVID-19 cases, including 17,338 deaths.