New unit opening at Great Ormond Street Hospital set to revolutionise how technology is used in hospitals

10 Oct 2018, 6 p.m.

Hands in front of a virtual reality screen

A new unit set to transform the use of technology including artificial intelligence in healthcare and improve patient outcomes is being opened at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

The state-of-the-art unit, called DRIVE – Digital Research, Informatics and Virtual Environments – is the first of its kind in the world. It is both a physical and conceptual unit and is the result of a unique partnership between GOSH, University College London (UCL) and leading industry experts in technology, artificial intelligence and digital innovation.

The idea behind DRIVE is to create a unique informatics hub to harness the power of the latest technologies to revolutionise clinical practice and enhance the patient experience, not only for GOSH patients but across the wider NHS.

The DRIVE team is working with ARM, Barclays, Microsoft, NHS Digital, NTT DATA, Samsung, XTX Markets and UCL to ensure the latest in technology and digital developments will be developed, appraised and implemented into a clinical setting at pace.

Projects which have already come through DRIVE and are being used within the hospital to help with patient outcomes and experience include Project Fizzyo, which is helping researchers look at how physical activity and airway clearance relates to changes in the health of children with cystic fibrosis using chipped sensors inside airway clearance devices.

Through DRIVE, the whole of GOSH has been recreated in a Minecraft world where patients are able to virtually explore before they visit the hospital and virtually meet and befriend other patients who are at the hospital to help improve their patient experience.

Dr Shankar Sridharan, Clinical Director of DRIVE, said: “The aim is to use technology and data to provide safer, better (data driven) and kinder care, that is clinician-focussed and patient-centred. DRIVE is the how and provides the capability to develop scalable solutions to improve healthcare. GOSH patients are digital natives which means they and their families are early adopters of technologies. They will naturally embrace the new devices and apps the unit develops. These young people are our future in so many ways – and of course the future patients of the NHS for the next 50 years.”

DRIVE has also had support from Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

Tim Johnson, Chief Executive of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the hospital to pioneer the use of digital technology that will help children at GOSH and more broadly. We believe this will be one of the most transformative projects we’ve ever funded; one that will change the lives of patients, families and clinicians, and help herald in a new era of medical research and tailored care.”

Noel Hurley, Vice President of Strategy, IP Products Group, ARM commented: “Artificial intelligence (AI) is already revolutionising markets such as automotive and retail, and there is significant value to be gained by those operating in the healthcare space. ARM technology enables AI at the edge, where compute tasks are carried out locally on the device, delivering significant benefits in terms of responsiveness, data privacy and efficiency. These are all critical in a hospital environment, where the technology will provide practical solutions for hospital processes and significantly improve the patient experience.”

Steven Roberts, Managing Director of Barclays UK Ventures, said: "The DRIVE unit is a great example of harnessing digital tools to improve real-world experiences, and we're thrilled to support through our Digital Eagles and Eagle Labs. Being part of a push to help train staff to embrace new innovations that benefit them, their teams and most importantly, patients, is both exciting and inspiring."

Cindy Rose, CEO, Microsoft UK said “The launch of DRIVE marks an important step in the AI journey for the UK healthcare sector. Ambitious programmes such as Project Fizzyo and the recreation of GOSH in Minecraft have already had a substantial, positive impact on patient care. We look forward to working in close collaboration with the DRIVE team to further amplify human ingenuity through the application of AI, delivering even greater outcomes for patients and their families.”

Sarah Wilkinson, NHS Digital Chief Executive, said: “We are incredibly excited about the potential for this new partnership with the DRIVE team at GOSH. Bringing clinicians, academics, world-leading technology companies and our own technicians together into a single physical environment will allow collaboration and innovation at pace.

“The NHS needs a dramatic acceleration in digitisation in order to be able to deliver to its full potential. There is much opportunity in leveraging proven commodity technologies, with little customisation, to address key digitisation challenges and I am certain that when we bring those who understand the need together with those who have already designed and delivered applicable technologies, we will be able to create new fast lanes in our digital programs”.

Tom Winstanley, Vice president, Digital & Innovation at NTT DATA, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the DRIVE team in their mission to improve patient outcomes across the NHS through the intelligent application of technologies. As the NTT DATA Group we are continuously investing in applied innovations that combine immersive experience technologies like AR, VR, haptics and social robotics with artificial intelligence: if done right their potential to enhance medical practice is massive and we are convinced that the DRIVE approach will help accelerate this revolution in the NHS.

Suzanne Homewood, Director of Enterprise, Samsung UK commented: “Being able to develop technologies which have the potential to transform lives and improve patient outcomes is hugely motivating. By joining forces with the world-class team at GOSH, we can begin to harness the power of our technology to find solutions to problems that haven’t yet been predicted, and accelerate the growth of digital healthcare. With DRIVE, we now have the ability to incubate and test new ideas which can eventually be scaled to help children, and the teams that care for them in the UK and across Europe. It’s an honour to be involved.”

Supporting DRIVE is UCL Computer Science and their UCL Industry Exchange Network which sees over 500 students a year work with industry partners to facilitate real work projects. Last year there were over 70 student projects for the NHS, half of which were in the early stages of DRIVE’s development.

Dr Dean Mohamedally, Director for the UCL IXN and Principal Teaching Fellow for Computer Science, said: “Our students must publish their work to be seen and GOSH DRIVE is a great partnership for us, pairing mentors in the field with students. The chance to link with, augment and enhance both clinicians and patients with better healthcare technologies, from Artificial Intelligence to Virtual Environments, is a huge win for their Computer Science student education and an exciting avenue for exploring their capabilities and motivation.”