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Exploring AI in health and care – how do we get it right?

12 December 2018

Dr Sophie Taysom is an independent policy analyst at Keyah Consulting. She has a keen interest in bringing innovation and policy to life, and is passionate about AI in health and care, and the opportunities and challenges it brings. She is a regular writer at Medium. Here she reflects on the discussions at the Bristol Health Partners AI in Health and Care: How do we get it right? event that took place on 28 November.

How do we use technology for public good? What are the opportunities and challenges? These were just some of the questions discussed at the Bristol Health Partner’s event, AI in health and care: how do we get it right? The event, held on 28 November 2018 in Bristol City Hall, was attended by over 340 people.

This round-up of the event provides a sketch of some of the key issues, themes and questions emerging from the evening, and some Twitter highlights. You can continue the conversation on Twitter @BristolHealthP or email

The event’s proceedings were kicked off by Lisa King, the Chief Operating Officer for Bristol Health Partners, and Chaired by Julian Walker, R&D Director, Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust. It was hosted by Bristol Health Partners, a unique and strategic collaboration between the city region's major health and academic institutions, covering the Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire area.

What is clear when speaking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) is that narratives swing from the outlandish to the terrifying. But in cutting through the hype, there is a real sense of optimism about the potential of AI based technologies to positively impact on health and care.

Underpinning this is a need for what will be a long running conversation about the opportunities, and ethical and technical challenges, that AI brings.

The speakers for the event were:

  • Dr Ben Goldacre, science journalist and Chair of Government’s new health technology advisory board
  • Dr Natalie Banner, Lead - Understanding Patient Data
  • Deborah El-Sayed, Director of Transformation, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group

Themes emerging included:

  • The language of AI and public attitudes
  • The importance of data
  • The local context

Download the full event report (PDF) for more details on all these themes and what the different speakers touched on.

Next steps

This event is just the start of the discussion. Bristol Health Partners is considering the issues raised about how we can use data to make people’s lives better, and what’s needed to make this happen.

One immediate action is for Bristol Health Partners to consider how to move forward on the supporting the people that will make this happen – access to training, creating career paths, and creating networks for data analysts; and support them to pool their skills and knowledge openly, in public, and collaboratively.

And there are also a number of questions that need to be discussed and taken forward as raised during the talks and by members of the audience. These include but are not limited to:

  • Where do we start in using AI in health and care? Where can it add the most value both in the short and the longer term?
  • What are the factors needed to make this happen?
  • How do we ensure that the secure sharing of health and care data with industry provides a value return to the public sector?
  • How do we appropriately regulate and licence AI algorithms?
  • How do we build accountability into systems if mistakes are made?

With a huge thanks to all those who participated. And remember, you can share your thoughts via Twitter @BristolHealthP or email We used #AIhealthcare on the night.

Exploring AI in health and care – how do we get it right?
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