Leeds hospitals deploy AI software to improve breast cancer care

By Jo Makosinski | Published: 12-Jul-2023

Digital solution supports diagnoses and relieves pressure on radiography workforce

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has started trialling new artificial intelligence (AI) software that evaluates the quality of mammograms to help improve breast cancer care.

Doctors are working with Densitas, a Canadian company which has developed an AI algorithm capable of identifying positioning errors in breast X-ray pictures.

The nine-month study will look at how adoption of the technology can boost quality assurance in radiography and is being funded by the Leeds Hospital Charity.

The study will focus on the health economic impacts of the technology.
Dr Nisha Sharma, director of breast screening and clinical lead for breast imaging at the trust (pictured), said: “This project is important because high-quality mammograms are essential for accurate cancer diagnosis.

“We want to see how AI can help us to increase the quality of our care in Leeds and save time when our workforce is under pressure.”

The Society of Radiographers has warned that one in 10 radiographer positions are unfilled and demand is growing by 10% every year.

The NHS has been introducing assistant practitioners to carry out mammograms and absorb some of the workload.

AI has the potential to help us deliver better care in our breast screening programme and symptomatic breast services

Standard practice for quality assurance in radiography involves a radiographer collecting 40 of their own mammograms every month, studying them for positioning errors, and filling out spreadsheets with their findings.

The process requires time-consuming administrative work and is fundamentally subjective, with little oversight.
In contrast, the AI software promises a comprehensive assessment.

It shows the number of mammograms performed by each radiographer, average image quality, and any positioning errors.

Radiographers THEN review the AI’s findings, identify any strengths or weaknesses in their work, and are offered relevant training resources.

Dr Sharma said: “When reviewing cancers missed in screening we find that about one third of them could have been detected with better image quality.

We want to see how AI can help us to increase the quality of our care in Leeds and save time when our workforce is under pressure

“Our project aims to improve quality by supporting and educating radiographers and cutting unnecessary administrative work.

“AI has the potential to help us deliver better care in our breast screening programme and symptomatic breast services.”
Mo Abdolell, chief executive of Densitas, added: “Our AI solutions address complex issues surrounding operational efficiencies amid a global understaffing crisis.

“We are delighted to be working with this forward-looking NHS Trust to support mammography quality improvement for better patient care and clinical outcomes.”

You may also like