Blog 2: My journey as a Topol Digital Fellow

Published on 20 September 2022, by Dr Venkatesh Muthukrishnan

Learning and development, Fellowships and scholarships, NHS Digital Academy, Artificial intelligence and robotics

I am delighted that my project on using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to develop a predictive algorithm is gathering pace and momentum. It illustrates the importance of support and encouragement from the Trust, where I am fortunate to get both from the Chief Information Officer and the Chief Executive.

My project, which focusses on using AI/ML to develop a predictive algorithm, is coming together well. I have linked up with key staff within our digital team. We are working with relevant experts in this domain and are also being very careful in terms of meeting the necessary governance requirements. We are going through the Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) (just 35 pages long) with the DPIA Officer as well as going through the finer aspects with the Clinical Safety Officer. As onerous as this process might appear, these are very important in terms of assuring clinicians and patients alike about the safety of such projects.

We are putting together a project team comprising myself, key staff from the digital team within our trust, and AI experts. We have created an initial proof of concept plan with a timeline to aim and complete the project by.

I am also very excited that I have had the opportunity to use my Topol Digital Fellowship and the project to get medical students from the University of Leeds interested and involved in this. I’m hoping that this will further open the eyes of the future workforce into the huge opportunities, as well as the challenges, in digital transformation for healthcare. Two medical students will join the project and will be writing about their experience alongside an evaluation of the project as part of their research study.

One of the most important things emphasised to all Topol Fellows right at the beginning of the Fellowship is the importance of engaging with people and that this is at the heart of digital transformation. To this end, I have engaged with the relevant clinicians by presenting a brief overview of this project to three Primary Contact Mental Health workers, who would be utilizing the algorithm (as and when it is ready to be used at a clinical level).

I have also been given the opportunity to present to the Patient and Carer Cocreation Group of the Trust. We have one group each for the northern and southern care groups of our Trust and I am presenting to both on the 26 and 28 September respectively. I have had an introductory meeting with the Chairman of the north care group and have shared relevant reading material. I am told that the group is already very interested in this project and are looking forward to discussing further with me.

The Topol Fellowship in Digital Health is not just about the project. It does create a profile for the Topol Fellow and places the Fellow at a vantage point in terms of generating further opportunities, both within and outside of the Trust. I would like to talk about some such opportunities for me.

Within the Trust, I have had a very interesting meeting with Trust Associate Director of Improvement and Redesign, in terms of developing and implementing a very interesting initiative of his. This involves establishing a digital networking platform for all the Trust staff to be able to network and learn from each other. The Trust Chief Information Officer has also created opportunities to work with the relevant teams rolling out a new EPR system within the Trust and exploring digital dictation. These are exciting opportunities for me to be more involved in and learn about different aspects of digital transformation.

As part of my Topol Fellowship, I have had the opportunity to take part in a very useful Topol Masterclass that saw Dr Navina Evans, Chief Executive of Health Education England, joined by James Freed, Chief Digital and Information Officer at Health Education England, to discuss about Innovation versus Governance. The take home point I gained from this session was that Governance when applied correctly could and should facilitate Innovation. We have also had a very interesting introduction to Jupyter notebooks as part of our ongoing teaching on AI and ML from the University of Manchester. Jupyter notebook is a web based interactive computing platform with goals to develop open-source software. It opens the clinicians to the world of statistics and computing that goes on in the digital world and therefore gives an enhanced understanding of how this works. We also had a very impactful presentation by Mr Ben Holliday, driving home the impact of stories in convincing stakeholders.

Among other benefits are the opportunity to become an Associate with the Faculty of Clinical Informatics (FCI). I have already been able to get a very helpful mentoring session through the FCI. I mentioned briefly about the Digital Health Summer School in my last blog, the contacts and networking that I gained during that session has been invaluable. One of the many opportunities from that is the possibility of writing a CPD module on digital transformation with a couple of my colleagues.

To sum it up, it has been an even more exciting three months, even with it being the summer holidays. I cannot wait for the next few months to unfold.

DM

Dr Venkatesh Muthukrishnan

Topol Digital Fellows and Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist

Friarage Hospital, Northallerton


Dr Venkatesh Muthukrishnan has been a Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist since 2011. He was the Clinical Director for Older Peoples Mental Health Services for North Yorkshire and York from November 2019 to April 2022, and has been the Training Programme Director for Core Psychiatry Training for North and East Yorkshire since December 2018. Dr Muthukrishnan is also the Educational Lead for the Yorkshire School of Psychiatry for the rollout of Blackboard into postgraduate Psychiatry training.

View more about Dr Venkatesh Muthukrishnan

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