The power of technology to improve life

It was a full house on Great George Street on Monday morning as Health Secretary Matt Hancock launched the Spectator Health Meeting. After recalling that he is so keen on technology to have his own application, the Health Minister made a moral assumption about the embrace of the digital revolution in health and social care. His warning that "fear may triumph" could be seen as a critique of the precautionary principle, which is often at the heart of the EU's regulatory approach, and referred to IVF as an example of technology that was once controversial, but has now improved the lives of millions of people who otherwise had no children.

There is no doubt that artificial intelligence, robotics and genomics have the potential to significantly improve diagnosis and treatment. Neil Mesher, managing director of Philips UK and Ireland, outlined how cancer services will be transformed by digitizing pathology services. Neil noticed that a cancer patient usually goes through over fifty different computer systems during their treatment, representing fifty opportunities for loss or non-application of patient data, and medical technology has the power to easily solve this problem. Richard Kerr, of the Royal College of Surgeons, said cataract surgery would also be re-examined by smart technology. Professor Robert Plomin, who specializes in behavioral genetics at King's College in London, explained how exploiting genomics to make predictions from birth could transform preventive healthcare. There are also profits from some less attractive developments. In his keynote address, NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens said that, in terms of simple performance, the best health technology market at the moment is digital voice recognition. He also expects hepatitis C to be eliminated in the UK by 2025 thanks to new drugs.

The $ 64,000 question is how well-equipped is the NHS to integrate current and future health technology into existing systems? There was no time for naive optimism. Although Matt Hancock was intelligent in his remarks, Matt Hancock was realistic when he found that British citizens were able to file a divorce online, but many of them still have not been able to close a GP online meeting.

Chris Hopson, CEO of NHS providers, told us that the UK has fewer MRI scanners and fewer CT scanners from most European countries. Neil Mesher touched upon the training required for hospital staff to support this digital revolution – something Philips will offer.

The need for change at every level of the organization is necessary if the NHS is to embrace new digital opportunities, but while Hancock urged 1.3 million NHS employees to look for ways to innovate, several speakers argued that the power of will is not enough . Applying the impressive technology of the future requires addressing the global problems of the present: motivating workers, allocating resources, prioritizing, staffing. Sara Gorton (UNISON) and Richard Murray (King's Fund) argued that £ 20 billion of funding to be delivered over the next four years is on the margins of the services to be delivered.

Yes, there is a need for more integration between NHS services – and Simon Stevens assured us that this was a priority and of course the NHS could always use more money but there are low impact fruits to be removed and new technology can is cost-effective. saving and costing. There are, as Neil Mesher said, tremendous opportunities to reduce costs and improve patient outcomes by diagnosing illness earlier with the use of AI technology and, as Professor Plomin said, there are great benefits from applying genetic studies to consideration of public health. Of course, every technology that is being developed must be safe, ethical and effective for both the patient and the system – a Dr. Indra Joshi, the clinical lead for the major NHS digitization project.

Britain is a world leader in these areas, as well as in pharmaceuticals. If NHS Chiefs consider the best of new technology to be a real investment and encouraging staff to use it well, Mr Hancock's optimism will be justified.