A UK-FIRST trial at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital hopes to utilise artificial intelligence to cut turnaround times for scans and reduce pressures on stretched A&E staff.

In collaboration with Qure.ai, a leading innovator in healthcare solutions, the revolutionary technology will allow emergency department consultants and clinicians to make faster decisions about the care and discharge of patients who require imaging of their head.

The AI technology quickly examines head CT scans and accurately pinpoints critical areas of concern, creating prioritised reporting for radiology staff. It means medical professionals at the flagship hospital in Govan are able to rapidly review imaging, resulting in prompt diagnosis and treatment decisions for patients who may be in a critical condition.

In the first few weeks of the head CT AI implementation over the 2023/24 winter period, the technology analysed 651 non-contrast head CTs, detected 128 head injuries, including cranial fractures, and shifts within patients' brains.

Glasgow Times: AI trial could improve waiting times for CT scans.AI trial could improve waiting times for CT scans. (Image: Supplied)

Professor David Lowe, emergency medicine consultant at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, says the advances can help reduce pressure on hospital staff.

He added: “Emergency departments across the country continue to face challenges, with one person presenting every 90 seconds, potentially requiring brain imaging.

“By utilising the opportunities of innovative AI to help prioritise urgent cases, we will look to deliver critical interventions whilst improving workflow and time in A&E for patients needing scans.

“The study looks to provide evidence to support adoption of AI across four centres in the UK. We hope this will support clinical teams in decision making to deliver critical care, reassurance and, when appropriate, discharge releasing capacity and space for patients."

The project, which is called ACcEPT (Assess the Clinical Effectiveness in Prioritising CT Heads), commenced at the QEUH and is one of four planned NHS sites across the UK, utilising the new cutting edge technology.

Denise Brown, director of digital services at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, added: “It is important to establish reliable evidence on the impact and value of AI solutions, and to determine how they best support clinical decision making.

“Our digital strategy enabled by AI brings together NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s expertise on research, innovation and the operation of AI solutions at scale, while working closely with colleagues in academia.”

Darren Stephens, senior vice president and commercial head at Qure.ai for UK and Europe, also believes the trial offers the chance to help relieve pressure on A&E staff - and save lives.

He said: “This is an exciting step forward for AI in NHS emergency departments. Providing digital health tools that can create calm and give informed prioritisation of urgent cases to support stretched clinical teams, especially at night or weekends, is very advantageous. It may help reduce CT scan-to-reporting turnaround times and give rapid alerts of critical findings that will boost the speed of treatment given to patients.”