NHS Grampian: KTN specialists in AI give the NHS a digital health boost

Posted on: 16/09/2019

NHS Grampian wanted to follow the national vision to create a tech-driven NHS and secure some of the benefits of introducing Artificial Intelligence (AI) into its processes.

For example, chatbots can save 1 hour of a clinician’s time per service user for emotional and suicidal ideation applications. Specifically, NHS Grampian realised the need to use its multiple data-sets to build capacity in the health and care systems and drive integration between primary, secondary and social care. KTN’s support helped NHS Grampian to build on its strength of internal collaboration and develop a partnership model to engage with specialist SMEs and attract funding.

Clinical staff are overwhelmed by data in busy clinical settings. There is limited time and we lack the tools to mobilise data to inform clinical decisions and to learn across the many thousands of clinical encounters. We were eager to work with experts in AI innovation to transform care and to harness the huge data resources to provide the very best care. Working with KTN, allowed us to develop meaningful partnerships to develop ideas with partner companies; to work together to design solutions for future care.

Dr John Thomson, Consultant Gastroenterologist, NHS Grampian and Electronic Health Record Clinical Lead

How did KTN help?

NHS Grampian, in collaboration with the University of Aberdeen’s School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, had created a ‘safe haven’ or ‘Trusted Research Environment’ which securely holds the data and which enables its secure processing.  The Grampian Data Safe Haven (DaSH) has a patient population of 500,000 but they faced a challenge of identifying the best way to harness its datasets for AI to benefit patients and health professionals. The collaboration with KTN helped solve this problem, and beyond.

There was a recognition at NHS Grampian that, despite the hurdles, introducing AI would yield considerable benefits.  NHS Grampian needed a route to engage with AI specialists to tap into their expertise and start to achieve some of the potential advantages offered by AI in health.

There is a national shortage and strong competition for AI specialists and KTN sits in an advantageous position.  It is able to use its internal expertise to support AI projects and identifying the most appropriate AI specialists to work on projects, making important connections for the client.

KTN offered a model to NHS Grampian to develop new areas for investigation by drawing on the most innovative UK experts in AI.  Among the advantages offered by working with the KTN was ensuring doctors and those from across the wider health and care landscape could take an active role in using the existing data to develop technologies to benefit both the patients and health professionals.  KTN was able to tap into its expertise using its teams not just in AI but also in Health and more specifically, AI in Health.

NHS Grampian’s aim was to empower patients, improve patient experience and free up clinical time. The most reasonable way to ensure that the benefits of exploiting their existing data were maximised and the risks are minimised was to work in collaboration with KTN.

KTN examined the use case and other information provided by DaSH to create a meaningful business opportunity. Industrial engagement was initiated and business buy-in secured.  KTN jointly managed a workshop to initiate collaboration build. A total of 13 businesses were brought in alongside Scottish Enterprise, DHI, Opportunity North East, Datalab and the DaSH team.

KTN held a highly successful, design-led workshop to facilitate access to healthcare data-sets for innovative SMEs. The workshop applied KTN tool called ‘Innovation Canvas’ and took a human-centred examination of the use case, and issued and developed propositions with the delegates around concepts that best fit their in-house capabilities. Businesses were encouraged to collaborate in order to be able to solve bigger and cover wider perspectives of the NHS challenges.


  • Formulate innovative ideas. The common challenges faced by the NHS and industry of ‘problem mismatch’ was eliminated. Problem mismatch occurs when AI companies initiate or develop an innovative solution to a problem which doctors do not classify as a problem or priority. KTN positioned itself as a platform to bring together doctors and those from across the wider health and care landscape and allow them to take an active role in the development of innovative and practical technologies.
  • Formulate partnerships. DaSH formed partnerships with five SMEs who demonstrated their capability and commitment to developing solutions to the ideas.
  • Attract funding. SMEs have developed and submitted funding proposals in collaboration with DaSh team.

KTN helped us see the value in the data safe haven infrastructure, data and relationships.  Our focus had been on working with researchers and academic projects.  The KTN project allowed us to understand the needs for SMEs and has driven innovation in DaSH; the data and services we offer.

Corri Black, Clinical Lead for the Grampian Data Safe Haven

As an important part of the economy of the North East of Scotland, Life Sciences is a key focus of ONE’s overall strategic ambition.  KTN is an important partner, along with the universities and NHS, in delivering this shared ambition to create a high growth, global centre for life sciences by linking industry to important research and knowledge and enabling companies to innovate and accelerate their growth.

Professor Stephen Logan, Chairman of ONE Life Sciences

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