A new partnership bringing together The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, NHS Lothian and Lenus Health, supported by Wellcome Leap, aims to develop improved support for Emergency Department clinicians through an innovative collaboration. 

Within this project, the role of the DataLoch team is to securely bring together relevant data from across primary and secondary care settings, which will be used to train an artificial-intelligence model.

Challenges for NHS resources

Every year in the UK, 1 in 4 Emergency Department visits involve patients citing chest pain or severe breathlessness. This amounts to 7.5 million visits in total. Patients arriving with these symptoms must be quickly evaluated for acute cardiac disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. However, rapid and accurate diagnosis is often difficult since acute cardiac disease is frequently indistinguishable from benign conditions.

For this reason, around twenty per cent of patients receiving acute cardiac care return to the Emergency Department within 30 days of their initial attendance. This places a significant burden on NHS resources and represents a delay in effective treatment for the patient. By digitally delivering the most relevant clinical data and predictive analytics directly to Emergency Department teams, the project aims to prevent these twenty per cent of patients returning within 30 days. 

Views from the project team 

Nick Mills, British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiology at the University of Edinburgh, said:

“For patients with acute chest pain or breathlessness due to a heart attack or heart failure, early diagnosis and treatment saves lives. Unfortunately, many conditions cause these common symptoms, and the diagnosis is not always straightforward. Harnessing data and artificial intelligence to support clinical decisions has enormous potential to improve care for patients and efficiency in our busy Emergency Departments.”

Paul McGinness, Chief Executive Officer of Lenus Health, said:

“The Lenus disease-management platform is rolled out across major health boards covering 68 per cent of the Scottish population and is uniquely able to develop and deploy both in-house and third-party AI models. Supporting frontline NHS staff and cardiac patients by delivering data and AI insights in the Emergency Department builds on the company’s ambition to reduce the acute care demands associated with long-term conditions that are currently overwhelming health systems through earlier and more efficient diagnoses of imprecise symptoms such as chest pain and breathlessness.”

The data at the heart of the project

The DataLoch team will securely bring together relevant data including hospital attendances, laboratory testing, prescriptions, blood pressure readings, frailty assessments, social deprivation measures, death records, and others. These data will be de-identified to ensure patient confidentiality and then used to train the artificial-intelligence model ahead of initial user testing. Ultimately, the final platform will be fully tested in the clinical setting later in 2023.