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Faculty builds medical database for AI-powered Covid-19 assessments

The data science firm Faculty has been tasked with building a database of chest scans that could lay the groundwork for AI-powered assessments of coronavirus patients.

Developed in partnership with NHSx, the British Society of Thoracic Imagining and Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, the initiative marks Faculty’s third coronavirus-related project in as many months.

The company, which has links to the Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings, is also playing a significant role in the development of a data store to assess and predict demand on the NHS, as well as a platform for assessing the impact of the virus on communities across the UK. The latest contract was secured as part of the company’s existing work for the NHS’s AI lab.

Formerly known as ASI Data Science, Faculty worked on the Vote Leave campaign for Cummings. Its chief executive’s brother Ben Warner, who also reportedly worked for Vote Leave, is now a data science adviser to Downing Street. Faculty has secured more than £1m of government contracts in less than two years.

The chest database, officially known as the National COVID-19 Chest Imaging Database, will be linked to other databases in an attempt to provide modelling that could predict which patients will go on to require access to ventilators. It is one of several similar projects. Researchers at Oxford University have partnered with GE Healthcare to predict which patients will become most ill and require ventilation.

In a statement, NHSx said: “The benefits of collecting chest imaging data are extensive. This data has the potential to enable faster patient assessment in A&E, save Radiologists’ time, increase the safety and consistency of care across the country, and ultimately save lives. It is being made available to researchers, clinicians, technology companies and all those wanting to investigate the disease and develop solutions that can support the Covid-19 patient care pathway.”

A source close to the project told NS Tech: “This will be a world-class resource for researchers trying to understand how the disease develops and will also help the development of safe technologies to support radiologists in diagnosing COVID.”