UK hospital uses new Azure AI system to cut waiting times for radiotherapy patients

UK hospital uses new Azure AI system to cut waiting times for radiotherapy patients


Specialists are able to plan treatments more than twice as quickly than if they were working manually

Amber Hickman |

Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, UK, has more than doubled the speed at which it can plan radiotherapy treatments by using a new artificial intelligence system developed by the NHS and built using Microsoft Azure Machine Learning.

The system, named OSAIRIS, was originally implemented in 2020 to help with prostate, head and neck cancer treatments, but due to the positive results seen so far and recent advancements in AI, the system could eventually be used across the NHS for various types of cancer.

“We’ve already started to work on a model that works in the chest, so that will work for lung cancer and breast cancer particularly,” said Dr Raj Jena, an oncologist at Cambridge Universities Hospitals NHS Foundations Trust. “And also, from my perspective as a neuro-oncologist, I’m interested that we’re building the brain model as well so that we’ve got something that works for brain tumours.”

OSAIRIS uses AI to outline healthy organs on scans prior to radiotherapy, a critical process that protects the healthy tissue from radiation. It is normally done manually and can take a doctor anywhere between 20 minutes and three hours to do per patient.

“OSAIRIS does much of the work in the background so that when the oncologist sits down to start planning treatment, most of the heavy lifting is done,” said Jena. “It is the first cloud-based AI technology to be developed and deployed within the NHS, which we will be able to share across the NHS for patient benefit.”

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