A new artificial intelligence technology has been developed at the John Radcliff Hospital in Oxford that will be able to scan patients for heart and lung diseases.

The technology will be available for free throughout NHS hospitals across the country, starting in summer 2018.

The hope is that this technology will be able to pick up on signs of heart disease or lung cancer much earlier than doctors are currently able to. It means that the pathology services used to diagnose these conditions are currently costing the NHS £2.2 billion a year.

Geneticist, Sir John Bell states the cost may be reduced by 50 percent and “could be the thing that saves the NHS.”

Cardiologists currently diagnose heart diseases by monitoring the heartbeat in scans such as ECGs but it is well known these are not always accurate.

Professor Paul Leeson, a cardiologist that worked on the system stated, “[as cardiologists] we accept that we don’t always get it right.”

Things like having an irregular heartbeat can show up on these scans as though you are having a heart attack.

The new AI system will be able to pick up on details that doctors cannot see themselves. The Chairman of the NHS, Professor Sir Malcom Grant has said that “artificial intelligence will bring patients a greater quality of care by diagnosing medical conditions and personalising treatment.”

Grant also acknowledges that the subject of AI is “fraught with ethical issues.”

Issues include whether NHS staff working in cardiology or pathology may be replaced by artificial intelligence and the large problems that could be caused if anything went wrong with the machines. However, Grant has also said that it would be “daft” for us not to take advantage of such an accurate technology that can outperform its human counterparts.