Published on 13 February 2023, by Venkatesh Muthukrishnan
Learning and development, Fellowships and scholarships, NHS Digital Academy, Artificial intelligence and robotics
As we step into 2023, it is only appropriate that I look back on 2022. It was the most exciting year in terms of my professional development and learning. All of that started with one momentous email I received in February 2022 announcing my selection for the prestigious Topol Digital Fellowship.
That email started me on a journey full of surprises, excitement, and innumerable opportunities, so much so that the only limiting factor has been time and my own energy to take on all of this. The last year has been the closest I have come to having the “drinking from fire hose” experience ever in my life.
But before I continue my ramble, let me give an update on the AI project that got me the Topol Digital Fellowship in the first place. With hindsight, I would say that I had chosen a rather ambitious project for my Fellowship. Ambitious, because the scale and concepts involved are rather new to NHS. As such it attracted a lot of scrutiny and challenges but thanks to unstinted support from the Trust, and the Chief Information Officer (CIO) Chris Reynolds in particular, the project has sustained.
It gave me a first-hand experience of the numerous challenges involved in achieving digital transformation of healthcare. It is however assurance at one level as the governance around new technologies is very comprehensive. I have to mention the incredible help offered by our Trust librarian, Rachel Steele, in sourcing two very useful textbooks on AI in Healthcare. One is authored by Arjun Panesar and is titled “Machine Learning and AI for Healthcare” and the other one is authored by Dr Anthony Change and is titled “Intelligence Based Medicine”. I would highly recommend these two books.
After all of the above and after what seemed an eternal wait, we finally got started with some training delivered from the external company on how their platform could help with our project. That project is using Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning to come up with a predictive algorithm to predict older adults who might be at risk of admission to mental health inpatient units. These are very early days but I am excited to see first hand the power of data in terms of delivering clinicians actionable insights.
One of the most valuable lessons from the Topol Digital Fellowship and TPX impact lessons in particular is the teaching sessions around user centred design. These led to a series of 1:1 session’s with the TPX facilitator, Julie Thiery, which has taken me on a significant learning journey. No change is possible without having users at the centre of it. As such I am planning to involve the users (in this case clinicians as well as patients and carers) in a workshop to understand how the algorithm can facilitate clinical practice.
Now back to the excitement and describing it. It is a long list but some of the highlights were attending the York Digital Health Summer Schools in July, becoming an associate at the Faculty of Clinical Informatics, attending the Health Education Technology summit and the incredible networking that I gained through all of the above.
The protected time has been invaluable as it has allowed me to take part in several other digital initiatives within the Trust. These include being the Clinical Lead Officer for the Trust-wide rollout of Virtual Visits and forming a clinician-digital specialist working group to address governance around reporting of blood test results. Topol has also given me the opportunity to work with the DART-Ed team and the NHS AI Lab in their efforts to produce a third paper in their series of reports on understanding, developing and establishing confidence in AI.
To conclude, the Topol Digital Fellowship has started me on a very exciting journey and I would like to conclude by saying that I have been able to encourage a Psychiatry Higher Trainee to apply for this process and delighted to say that he has been successful.