The last 12 months have spurred innovation in healthcare like no other as the world battles to get on top of the coronavirus pandemic.
The scale of achievement, from vaccine development through to contact-tracing apps, has highlighted the potential of technology to transform healthcare – and pointed to even greater possibilities in the future.
Recognising this, and to build on this existing momentum, trade association techUK has published a Ten Point Plan for Healthtech, which sets out ten key steps to improve individual experience and outcomes, as well as the UK’s reputation in this area.
The ten steps designed to drive overall progress in digital health technology are:
- Putting the power into the hands of the public
- Developing world-class digital health and care standards
- Communicating the value of digital health
- Applying an international, open standards first approach
- Centrally mandating, assessing and enforcing the use of interoperability standards
- Supporting integration of social care through digital transformation
- Increasing digital maturity of staff
- Providing targeted and dedicated investment for digital technology
- Enshrining the role of the Integrated Care System into law
- Streamlining procurement of digital technology
These are a strong and inclusive set of recommendations, driven by consulting and discussion with bodies including NHS Digital, NHSX and Health Education England, and all are to be welcomed.
Here at digi.me, however, we are particularly pleased to see the first one, which recommends that health services should prioritise improving citizens’ access to their own data, enabling them to make data-driven, informed decisions about their own care.
Empowering citizens with their own data is our guiding mission, and we have already enabled people in the UK, US, Netherlands and Iceland to gather copies of parts of their health data. This brings the concept of patient centricity – putting individuals at the heart of both their data and any health treatments and decisions – a big step closer.
But, even as we progress plans to integrate rapidly with more healthcare systems across the UK, we also recognise that more needs to be done to open up all patient data. This is not overly difficult to do, with the right will and systems in place, and in many cases APIs already exist.
It is also cost-effective for health services, with a potential price tag in the low tens of millions at most, a drop in the ocean of overall spending, but with very high positive impact potential.
Julian David, techUK CEO, said: “The past year has highlighted the essential role that digital health technology can play in supporting the NHS and care sector to deliver better outcomes for patients. Building on recent successes, this paper distills several complex challenges and issues that the health and social care sector faces into ten logical and, importantly, achievable recommendations. The health of the population is the highest priority and this document offers an essential roadmap for working in partnership with the system to improve the delivery of care across the board.”
Accelerating innovation, and enforcing interoperability between disparate services, is the only way to bring about a revolution in patient centricity and healthcare in general. We look forward to seeing, as well as being part of, more important work in this area with the aim of creating more streamlined, inclusive and personalised health services for us all.