Knowledge Transfer Partnership helps artificial intelligence to save the NHS millions

Posted on: 23/11/2018

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Orbital Media and the University of Essex is creating online AI doctors.


Orbital Media, digital and social specialists, and the University of Essex have joined forces to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to save the NHS millions of pounds per year by creating automated online GPs to revolutionise the way patients are treated.

In partnership with Innovate UK, the £250,000 investment project will exploit AI and machine-learning technology to provide medically approved health advice to the increasing numbers of users who seek medical information online.

Taking place through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) initiative ‚Äì a world-leading programme that helps businesses innovate by connecting them to the UK’s wealth of academic resources – the technology developed will be used to serve interactive advice via ground-breaking, photo realistic avatars. Information supplied by the platform will focus on minor ailments such as colds, coughs, flu and hay fever.

These self-treatable conditions currently account for a significant proportion of GP time and are identified by the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) as one of the five examples of wastage in the NHS system, amounting to a cost of £2 billion per year.

The project will be managed by a carefully recruited Computer Scientist Рknown as the KTP Associate Рwho will base themselves at Orbital Media full-time and work closely with the academic team at Essex. The resulting technological solution will provide a visual, reliable and robust online health advice service, to meet the rapidly growing demand for online ‘symptom searches’.

Due to its public importance and potential impact, the 30-month project will be part-funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Innovate UK.

Orbital Media CEO, Peter Brady, commented on the importance of this innovation to the NHS: “GPs are currently under immense pressure, with significant amounts of money devoted to dealing with minor ailments. This comes at a time when the NHS is required to find ¬£22 billion of efficiency savings by 2020¬≥. The potential for AI technologies to help relieve pressure from the heavily burdened primary care system is significant. Even if we can reduce the cost spent on minor ailments by as little as 1%, the potential saving to the NHS would be approximately ¬£20 million per annum.

“AI has a key role to play in supporting future healthcare needs and this is just the beginning of our exploration into its potential applications within healthcare pathways. It‚Äôs hugely exciting for Orbital Media to be at the forefront of this cutting edge technology, which could produce genuinely revolutionary improvements for our healthcare system.” Dr Luca Citi from the¬†School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering¬†at the University of Essex added: ‚ÄúArtificial intelligence and machine learning technology have the potential to transform so many aspects of our everyday lives. We are excited about this opportunity to work with Orbital Media to see how we can share our expertise to have a significant impact on how health services might be delivered in the future.”


Knowledge Transfer Partnerships have been helping UK businesses innovate for growth for over 40 years. These special, funded collaborations are available to organisations in any sector and of any size, and provide unique access to the UK’s world-class academic resources.

If you think a funded KTP could help your organization innovate for growth, talk to one of our specialist KTP Advisers. They are based throughout the UK and can assess your idea and help you apply for the KTP, and will remain on hand with advice and support for the duration of the project.

KTP applications enjoy a high rate of success (around 90%), and competitions for funding run throughout the year.

For further information on the innovation plan please contact Peter Brady at Orbital Media on

For further information on the KTP please contact Rob Walker:


To find out whether a Knowledge Transfer Partnership could help your organisation and how to apply, visit

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