Wales Expands NHS Use of AI for Cancer Diagnosis, Helps Prioritize Urgent Cases


  • Wales expands AI tool IBEX Galen for cancer diagnosis after a 13% increase in prostate cancer detection in a pilot study.
  • New digital strategy in Wales includes unified digital health record, aiming for a ‘digital first’ approach to healthcare.
  • IBEX Galen AI platform to be trialed in breast cancer detection, part of innovative push towards digital healthcare in Wales.

In a move to revolutionize the healthcare sector, the Welsh Government has announced the expansion of artificial intelligence (AI)-a powered tool designed to detect cancer in biopsy samples. The decision follows a promising 13% increase in prostate cancer diagnosis during a pilot study. The AI platform known as IBEX Galen will now undergo further trials for suspected breast and prostate cancer cases.

A successful pilot

The initial pilot at the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board in Bangor, North Wales, showed remarkable results. The IBEX Galen AI platform is now scheduled to be extended to five more boards across the country. The AI’s ability to analyze digital images of pathology samples and classify them with a traffic light system significantly assists clinicians in prioritizing urgent cases.

The IBEX Galen AI platform

Prostate Cancer Detection

The AI works by scrutinizing digital images of pathology samples and classifying them according to the likelihood of cancer presence. A traffic light system enables the most urgent cases to be identified, potentially allowing earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Breast Cancer Trial

After the success in prostate cancer detection, the IBEX Galen AI platform will be trialed in suspected breast cancer cases. This move highlights the increasing trust and confidence in AI technology within the medical field in Wales.

Digital strategy in Wales

New Measures by Health Minister

The extension of the AI platform aligns with a new digital strategy introduced in Wales by Health Minister Baroness Eluned Morgan. It consists of a range of measures, including additional digital platforms aimed at improving care quality and helping people manage their health.

Unified digital health record

Wales is working on a unified digital health and social care record for the public, aiming for a ‘digital first’ approach. The goal is to minimize variation in health and social care provision and patient outcomes, making healthcare more streamlined and efficient.

Galen Prostate AI achievements

The Galen Prostate AI, developed by Ibex Medical Analytics, became the first AI-based cancer diagnostic tool to receive a CE Mark in the EU. The company is also seeking the same status for its breast and gastric cancer algorithms, marking a significant advancement in the AI healthcare space.

Innovate UK award

In March, Ibex Medical Analytics, along with partners such as the University of Nottingham and a consortium of NHS trusts, won Innovate UK’s Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award for the Galen breast cancer tool. The award includes funding to deploy the AI in analyzing 10,000 biopsies to explore if the Ibex technology can elevate the quality of diagnosis, reduce review time, and impact the cost-effectiveness of a breast cancer diagnosis.

Future prospects and impact

The move signifies a considerable leap towards a digital healthcare system in Wales and showcases how innovative and effective use of data-driven technology can help to address the rising demands and pressures on the NHS.

Wales is taking a pioneering approach by integrating AI into the NHS, setting a precedent that other regions may follow. The extension of the IBEX Galen AI platform in cancer diagnosis not only heralds a new era in medical technology but also exemplifies how technology can be leveraged to enhance healthcare provision. The Welsh Government’s commitment to a ‘digital first’ strategy underscores the essential role of technology in shaping the future of healthcare, making strides towards improved care, reduced costs, and quicker patient turnaround times.

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Glory Kaburu

Glory is an extremely knowledgeable journalist proficient with AI tools and research. She is passionate about AI and has authored several articles on the subject. She keeps herself abreast of the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning and writes about them regularly.

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