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Home » Patient care » How AI is improving London’s NHS 111 Integrated Urgent Care service

Martin Taylor

Co-Founder and Deputy CEO, Content Guru

Mark Bamlett

Head of Integrated Urgent Care / UEC Digital, NHS England – London Region

Callers might not realise it, but AI is helping to power London’s NHS 111 Integrated Urgent Care service. It means they get more efficient access to the most appropriate care.

How artificial intelligence (AI) will impact our lives in the future is unknown. Yet, there’s no doubt that, if used appropriately, it can enhance the healthcare experiences of NHS patients.

Current use of AI when calling NHS 111

AI has positively impacted London’s NHS 111 Integrated Urgent Care service. When a patient in London rings 111, the system employs natural language processing and interactive voice response (IVR) technology to ask the caller questions, listen to their answers and then route them to the most appropriate skillset available from a team of multidisciplinary specialists. It’s a more efficient way to get patients to the best sources of help — and only possible because of AI.

“AI has allowed us to personalise London’s NHS 111 Integrated Urgent Care service,” explains Mark Bamlett, Head of Integrated Urgent Care/UEC Digital, NHS England – London Region. “It means we can quickly get a patient through to the right clinician. At the end of the call, patients can opt-in to receive a post-event text message, which is unique to them.”

The message outlines what to do if their condition worsens and includes details of any onward referrals, so the patient doesn’t have to remember everything that was discussed during their call.

AI has positively impacted London’s NHS
111 Integrated Urgent Care service.

Deploying AI in a careful and clinically safe way

For the last seven years, Bamlett’s team has been working on the development of London’s NHS 111 service with Content Guru, a global cloud communications software business providing technology for contact centres. Martin Taylor, Content Guru’s Co-Founder, says their ‘agile methodology’ (breaking large amounts of strategic work into sections to deliver it swiftly) has been pivotal to the system’s success.

“NHS 111 is a vital service for Londoners; we recognise the need to deploy AI in a responsible and clinically safe way,” he notes. “If we were attempting to use AI to analyse symptoms and prescribe treatments, then patients wouldn’t want it — neither would we. This technology enables better clinical decision-making and optimises outcomes. We are continually refining the service to find new ways to improve the patient experience.”

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