Digital and AI technologies

Our large multidisciplinary community explores the potential for digital and AI technologies to revolutionise health and care.

We have more than 350 academics from across the University involved in our multidisciplinary Digital Health and Care network.

This broad base of researchers and ‘intrapreneurs’ allows us to conduct pioneering research that explores the use of digital and AI technologies to:

  • understand the causes and progressions of diseases;
  • develop new diagnostics and therapies;
  • understand the complex interaction between health and environment;
  • optimise the health and care system;
  • develop new experimental methods;
  • validate digital health technology.

The research takes three broad perspectives:

Algorithms

We develop innovative methods for analysing health and care data in order to discover new mechanisms, predict and detect disease onset, and model individual responses to treatment.

In this area, the University’s partnership with the Turing Institute is particularly important. The University has strengths in the use of real-world health data for predictive, precision and personalised medicine, in text analytics, and in imaging.

Applications range from cancer to musculoskeletal disease, and cardiovascular disorders.

Systems

We explore deployment of digital interventions in order to transform health and care services. This area typically draws upon algorithmic outputs from the first area to create person-centred care pathways.

Notable strengths exist in electronic audit and feedback, clinical decision support, and learning health systems, with most applications in primary care.

People

We research the use of digital technologies to improve the health and well-being of individuals through personal digital devices.

This area mostly focuses on prevention and management of long-term conditions. We have significant strengths in mobile health, wearable sensing, and behaviour change.

This area typically draws upon new algorithms, whilst in turn providing new sources of data and challenges for that area.

These perspectives are underpinned by research in four technology areas:

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence has the capability to improve health outcomes by supporting clinical decision-making. Recent breakthroughs in machine learning have revived excitement for this type of technology, and sparked new promises of radical improvement of healthcare services.

Risk prediction

Healthcare services worldwide are moving away from being reactive and focused on illness, and have embraced approaches that are proactive, preserve health, and prevent illness. This requires the ability to predict illness and disease progression before they actually happen – to predict risk.

Connected health

Connected health is the broad term for using network-based technologies to provide healthcare services remotely. It encompasses telehealth, mobile health, and the use of environmental, home-based and wearable sensor technologies for health. It has the potential to radically change healthcare delivery.

Learning health systems

Health systems, at any level of scale, become learning systems when they develop the ability to, continuously and routinely, study and improve themselves. Digital technologies have the potential to trigger this ability by defining, structuring, creating and reusing data and knowledge.