Creating the Alder Hey Cognitive Hospital

We’re using our AI and data analytics expertise to help Alder Hey Children’s Hospital become the UK’s first cognitive hospital.

Imagine a hospital that not only understands your questions and concerns, it can respond to them.

Imagine​​ a hospital environment that can be adapted and changed before you arrive.

Imagine a hospital where the medical team knows you as a person – your interests, your fears – and not just as a patient.​

​In a groundbreaking collaboration between the Hartree Centre and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, we are helping to build the UK’s first cognitive hospital. The artificial intelligence (AI) technology we are developing will help to revolutionise personalised medicine, putting the patient at the centre of their care in a way that has never before been possible.

It’s all made possible by the huge advances in computing and data processing. The new project is being built on IBM Watson – the world’s first commercially available cognitive computing system.

What is a cognitive hospital?

Modern computing systems are able to process huge amounts of data quickly, extracting the most relevant and important parts. With the right expertise, we can transform this mountain of information into useful and personal insights that can be used to improve services or treatments.

We are using our knowledge and experience as one of the world’s leading centres for data management and analysis to help Alder Hey Children’s Hospital become the UK’s first cognitive hospital. We are building a new digital system on IBM Watson, the world’s first commercially available cognitive computing platform.

The Hartree Centre team (made up of computational and data science experts) will tailor IBM Watson for use at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.​

What are you currently working on?

The Hartree Centre is helping Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to harness the power of IBM Watson and develop a tailored solution which will enhance the patient experience. Our role is to ensure that the technology works effectively.

Currently, our biggest challenge is in training Watson. We are working with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to collect huge amounts of information, which we will then use to help Watson understand everything it needs to about the hospital.

Some of this information already exists, and some of it we are our currently working with volunteer patients and their families to collect.

We feed the information to Watson, helping the system to learn and develop. At the same time as managing the flow of data to Watson, we will tailor the system to that it can fulfill the specific requirements of its application. In the future, Watson will get to a stage where the system can begin to learn and develop for itself.

​Watch the video to see an example of how we hope the final solution could be integrated into the patient journey through the hospital.

When will the cognitive hospital become a reality?

Work on the technology that will power the cognitive hospital is already underway. We are actively developing the project and have started piloting some technologies with selected groups of patients. We are now working iteratively, adding more and more functionality to the system once we have tested it and ensured it functions effectively. 

You can now test out the first element of the cognitive hospital – the “Ask Oli” chatbot, currently in beta testing – by downloading the Alder Play ​app onto your device or visiting the “Ask Oli” page on the Alder Hey website.

What could the project achieve?

The potential for the project is incredible. Alder Hey Children’s Hospital already boasts some of the most advanced and patient-focal facilities in the UK. We’re helping it to develop some of the most advanced technological capabilities too. IBM Watson is already being used in other hospitals internationally, but this is the first time it has been used in such a way in the UK. Improving the patient experience is at the heart of the vision for the cognitive hospital, and everything we are doing will contribute to this aim.

Why cognitive?

Enhancing the patient experience

What can cognitive technologies do for me?

Cognitive technologies have many applications across various industry sectors, within which the Hartree Centre is already working on a number of exciting applications.

If you are interested in how cognitive computing could improve the way your business or organisation works, please contact us today.

How can I get involved?

There are already a number of partners working to deliver the project. We may still be interested in hearing from businesses and organisations that have skills that could contribute to this project. If you would like to discuss how you might get involved, please contact us​.

You can help us to train the chatbot by visiting the Alder Hey website or downloading the Alder Play app. 

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