Insightful outcomes from Firestarters presents…Can AI save the NHS?
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Insightful outcomes from Firestarters presents…Can AI save the NHS?

Following many successful events across 2023, Firestarters sparked one more flame with the closing event of the year. The event focused on our most controversial topic yet, the role of AI as a force for good in the NHS.

Get to know Firestarters

Firestarters is a community of changemakers, bringing together people from the public, private and third sectors to take action and spark positive change on both a local and national scale. Through a range of live events, both virtually and in-person, we strive to facilitate important conversations and tackle core challenges. Firestarters is community lighter fuel.

Why Firestarters presents…Can AI save the NHS?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has sparked many recent fears surrounding privacy, identity theft and job losses, due to continuing advancements in technology and data processes. We wanted to spin the conversation on its head and explore the role of AI as a force for good, helping to improve our crumbling NHS and create a positive future in healthcare. We brought together some of the brightest minds from across the region to investigate whether harnessing the power of AI in the healthcare sector would create a more sustainable future, and improve the nation’s health. 

What we discussed at Firestarters presents…Can AI save the NHS?

We formed a panel of some of the region’s leading healthcare experts and industry innovators, alongside a diverse range of attendees from various sectors and experience levels. Bringing together this community for the event allowed us to investigate the key challenges and opportunities for AI and its integration into the public healthcare system, from some insightful perspectives.

During the event, we heard some important ideas from five guest speakers: 

The event kicked off with an insightful talk from keynote speaker, James Crawford. As an expert in the field of AI, James gave attendees a crash course on AI fundamentals, helping to better understand AI, its potential in developing future healthcare processes and the innovative ways that it is currently being used to develop technological processes. 

We then heard from our panel of industry leaders in classic Firestarters fashion, whilst allowing our participants their opportunity to join the conversation and ‘ask the experts’ their burning questions. Up first was Shilvan Tavares, who was asked to discuss some of the challenges associated with AI technology that the NHS might struggle with. Shilvan highlighted that we can’t become completely reliant on AI, but it is important to understand how we can begin to integrate it into the NHS to improve health and wellbeing.

AI is a tool in the box. We don’t want people to depend on AI for everything, but we need to figure out how to better integrate it into the NHS.

Shilvan Tavares, The Wellbeing Doctors

We then heard from our keynote speaker, James Crawford, asking him to share his insights about the potential opportunities for the NHS to improve its efficiency through AI. James discussed how there are various opportunities for AI to be introduced to the NHS on different levels and across different departments. James also identified that AI has been around for a long time and has the ability to transform the sector, particularly around information and communication, leading to more sustainable healthcare models.

I think there are lots of opportunities to provide a service to the NHS. We could get it to perform a lot of the boring jobs and introduce it to new departments. Then, workers could move on to more interesting and exciting things.

James Crawford, Touchpoint Change Consulting

Next, we heard from Hannah Randles, who was asked to share her insights and experiences on how the NHS could utilise AI to improve economic outcomes. Hannah identified the role of quality data and the opportunities it can present in improving healthcare and efficient processes.

Data as a force for good is quite powerful but there is a discomfort in sharing data. It has the potential to do a lot of good.

Hannah Randles, Lyva Labs

When asked about the changes that needed to be made within the NHS and the wider AI tech space, Edward Lynch explored the importance of education and access to resources. He shared that providing NHS staff access to the right knowledge around AI can limit fears around its advancement.

The problem is culture and education. Being able to tap into these resources is key to getting more people on board with AI.

Edward Lynch, The Wellbeing Doctors

Closing the insightful panel Q+A, we asked Richard Harding to share some of his knowledge about meaningful uses of AI and what we can learn from this. Richard explored the challenges around rapid technological advancement and how we need to keep up relevant knowledge and understanding of AI.

Tech advances quicker than we can keep up with. This makes it difficult to stay relevant with knowledge and current advancements. We need to ask the brave questions and recognise the importance of this shift in understanding.

Richard Harding, Hartree Centre
After discovering some inspiring ideas and core knowledge from our guest panel, we then went into smaller breakout groups, to discuss the concepts in a more in-depth and conversational manner. The breakout groups were led by our Firestarters team, bringing together our change-making attendees and guest panel. Each group explored the challenges and opportunities around AI in the healthcare industry, as well as discussing the changes that should be seen from both an organisational and wider industry perspective.

In true Firestarters style, we closed the event by creating actionable next steps to allow us to strive for measurable change. To do this, we asked our participants to create a live, co-designed pledge that demonstrated their individual commitments to spark change. By doing this, each attendee created their own next step that they would carry out within their organisations to take action and drive impact, such as: 

  • Education around AI on an individual and team-wide basis 
  • Discover the way AI can be used responsibly and ethically within organisations 
  • Explore how AI can benefit the NHS through a perspective of lifestyle medicine

Further reading

Are you inspired? If you’d like to discover more about the role of AI in the NHS and wider healthcare industry, take a look at this insightful reading from some of our guest speakers: 

James Crawford’s resources from his AI fundamentals crash course:

Richard Harding’s Digital Healthcare Innovation Handbook

What’s next for Firestarters?

After a successful 2023, we’ll be reflecting and re-fueling. We’ll be back in 2024, bringing you a host of exciting events, working to spark change across the Liverpool City Region and beyond. 
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