Online GP collaboration announced for minor ailments

Digital agency Orbital Media and the University of Essex have announced a collaboration to create automated online GPs to help the way patients are treated.Artificial-Intelligence-Virtual-GPs-image

The collaboration intends to help the NHS save millions of pounds per year by using artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to provide health advice to those seeking medical information online.

 The technology will be be used to provide interactive advice by using photo realistic avatars. The collaboration will aim to provide advice on self-treatable conditions such as colds, coughs, flu and hay fever. These minor ailments account for a significant amount of GP time and cost the NHS system £2 billion per year.

The collaboration will be a 30 month project part-funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC),  The Economic and Social Research Council  (ESRC) and Innovate UK.

About the project importance, Orbital Media CEO, Peter Brady said: “GPs are currently under immense pressure, with significant amounts of money devoted to dealing with minor ailments. This comes at a time when the NHS is required to find £22 billion of efficiency savings by 2020. The potential for AI technologies to help relieve pressure from the heavily burdened primary care system is significant. Even if we can reduce the cost spent on minor ailments by as little as 1%, the potential saving to the NHS would be approximately £20 million per annum. AI has a key role to play in supporting future healthcare needs and this is just the beginning of our exploration into its potential applications within healthcare pathways. It’s hugely exciting for Orbital Media to be at the forefront of this cutting edge technology, which could produce genuinely revolutionary improvements for our healthcare system.”

Dr Luca Citi from the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering at the University of Essex said: “Artificial intelligence and machine learning technology have the potential to transform so many aspects of our everyday lives. We are excited about this opportunity to work with Orbital Media to see how we can share our expertise to have a significant impact on how health services might be delivered in the future.”


Reece Armstrong is a reporter for Digital Health Age. Coming from the North East of England, Reece has an MA in Media & Journalism and a BA in Popular & Contemporary Music from Newcastle University. Reach him on Twitter or email via:

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