back to article Hospitals to use startup's AI tech to predict A&E traffic

At least 100 NHS trusts in England are to start using machine-learning software to predict the number of patients expected to be admitted to Accident and Emergency departments each day. The tool, built by British startup Faculty, aims to help managers figure out how best to allocate staff and resources during predicted surges …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    by unauditable unaccountable Algorithm

    1. sad_loser

      This is not news

      we have been able to predict admission patterns for Emergency Departments surprisingly accurately for many years.

      The fact is that unless the hospital uses this data to open up more beds at the right time then we have wasted our money.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: This is not news

        However, it has only been comparatively recently that the data analysis and modelling has gained that new and trendy tag "AI"...

      2. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: This is not news

        I think the more important point would be that unless the hospital has enough funding to actually provide more beds, and the staff to go with them, knowing how many people are going to turn up is irrelevant. Waiting lists and ambulance response times aren't at record levels because hospitals aren't quite good enough at predicting A&E arrivals.

    2. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Death

      Quite the opposite

  2. JohnMurray

    In May 2017, The Observer published an investigative article by Carole Cadwalladr which revealed links between Faculty and Cambridge Analytica, notorious for their involvement in the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scanda

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Prediction is really difficult

    Particularly about the future...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Who is deciding to give scum like Faculty money? This is exactly what hospitals are already doing and have been for decades. Stamping it “AI” doesn’t change anything. It’s simple stats.

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Ffs

      It's complex stats, and predicting the near future; easy to validate it's effectivness before letting it influence decisions.

      Run it for a bit, and see how many people you could have helped but didn't (or if not, don't use it)

      This strikes me as a rare good use of what we're are calling AI this year.

      Weather prediction models these days are astoundingly good compare to when I was a kid and there are some very big computers making that happen.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ffs

        It's not complex. It's already being done as attendances are already very predictable. Analysts are already including things like weather when looking at A&E activity. Yes it is a good thing to be doing, but it is not new and doesn't need money funnelling to corrupt, fraudulent companies.

  5. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    What dark oriface is the fund coming out of?

    I mean A&E are seriously underfunded and someone is going to spend more money to do this? And will this AI be delivered on budget, on time and fit for purpose?

    Y'know what? Don't bother answering. I am gonna get me coat and drown my sorrows.

  6. cantankerous swineherd

    handy, the managers will know in advance how many beds they haven't got.

  7. John70

    My prediction without AI software: Increase in A&E visitors every Friday and Saturday night.

    1. hoola Silver badge

      We have years of data on A&E admissions, why does it need funky AI software to analyse it. As you say, the peaks and troughs are already well understoood.

      This has all the hallmarks of smart salespeople bamboozling manglement with hype making them think that this will somehow be so much better,...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        All NHS and A&E staff do a 100% better job than AI, but they are not getting rewarded for it ... it's significant that they continue going a great job to get people saved regardless.

        If they were just AI then they would only rewrite the algorithm.

  8. katrinab Silver badge

    I guess you can predict it up to a point:

    Like for example there are more stabbings on Friday and Saturday night than at other times, and there are more stabbings after big football matches.

    And yes, if more people call 111, a certain proportion of those might end up in hospital. Same with a forecasted heatwave or cold-snap.

    But what about the next Grenfell, or the next Dunblane Massacre, or the next Ladbroke Grove rail crash, or the next Manchester Arena bombing?

    Those sorts of things lead to a lot of people needing hospital treatment very urgently. And while they were all predictable, they weren't predicted by anyone who was in a position to do anything about it, and this thing won't be able to predict them because it won't have the relevant datapoints to do so, and they don't happen frequently enough to be able to identify any patterns.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >I guess you can predict it up to a point:

      No need to get hypothetical, given the extensive historical data, did the AI predict the massive increase in demand for A&E in March 2020, that only started to decline in recent months.

  9. tin 2

    or just...

    ... overprovision the room, beds and staff a bit, and in particular let the staff have some downtime, R&R, look after their own health and not feel like they're running off their tits for 14 hour shifts.

    I'm absolutely convinced the cost will be about the same, or perhaps in the (very big) round, less, and the department will be able to cope with the peaks when they come just by having slack.

    The obsession with JIT is pretty flaky in industry. It doesn't need to be the case in things like healthcare.

  10. Neil Charles

    A tenner says...

    A tenner says their model breaks in a post-covid UK (provided we get to one).

    We've got an AI model that's AMAZING at predicting hospital A&E admissions 2-3 weeks out, trained on data from the past couple of years!

    2-3 weeks eh? Isn't that about the average period between a positive covid test and A&E admission?

    I wonder what the strongest explanatory variable in their model is? Another tenner says it's positive covid tests.

  11. an.other_tech

    Never enough beds

    Waste of money. Every A and E I've ever heard of, worked in, visited and been in does not have the capacity to cope.

    Often in the management meetings, when , at the weekends, there were no beds, and critical incidents were called to free up money for more agency staff.

    This is not a solution for now, but yes, certainly in the future, after more hospitals are built and there is real capacity, not just people waiting to go home sitting in a chair for hours, or waiting for an ambulance to take them home because they can't use a taxi.

    It is inhuman some of the things I've seen hospital management do to patients.

    Another utter shambles from NHS bosses at the National level, not individual trusts.

    Trusts, there's another story...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NHSE wasting our money

    Oh No......Faculty were also the developers of the "COVID-19 Early Warning System".

    Which is absolutely FIRST CLASS SH!T.

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