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Somerset NHS Foundation Trust uses AI to halve time in key lung cancer stage

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust has become the first in the UK to study the performance of an AI algorithm for detecting lung cancer from X-rays. The trust has been testing whether Behold.AI can help it meet its national targets for lung cancer diagnosis.
“There’s been a lot of buzz about AI at radiology meetings, but there’s little experience of using it in an NHS trust,” shared Dr Paul Burn, Consultant Radiologist at the Trust. “We embarked on a bottom-up initiative to test the algorithm, with the aim of helping us improve our referral times.”
“We have a fairly elderly patient population, which may make it harder for AI imaging solutions to be effective because of a higher incidence of abnormalities that show up on X-rays, such as scarring and calcifications,” he added.
By prioritising which X-rays need urgent attention from a radiologist, the AI helped reduce the time from chest X-ray to CT scan from seven to 2.8 days, supporting the trust to meet its 28-day cancer diagnosis target. The trust also adjusted its next-day booking pathway for CT scans, the next stage in the lung cancer referral process after an X-ray.
The Trust and Behold.AI found that of the 3,794 chest X-rays reviewed by the red dot algorithm over a three-month period, the average time for a result to enter the hospital system was 16 seconds.