The NHS is under mounting pressure to drive transformational change through technology – to use the latest in clinical, administrative and infrastructure tools and systems to improve patient outcomes, responsiveness and efficiency whilst trying to streamline costs. Technology is no silver bullet, and there is no “one size fits all approach”, but with the world of healthcare technology moving so rapidly, it’s vital to keep your finger on the pulse of digital health trends, and how the technologies can be adapted to the needs of your Trust to achieve your objectives.
With that in mind, here are 4 emerging digital health trends you need to know about.
1. Wearables and IoT
While wearables and the Internet of Things are not new in terms of technology, they’re becoming more and more prevalent in healthcare.This means their incredible capabilities to inform medical decisions on an individual patient basis, and medical research as a whole, are being realised. From fitness trackers to newly developed wearable ECG and blood pressure monitors, it’s a trend that’s set to truly revolutionise how patient data is collected and care is delivered. Data collected from wearable health devices can lead to more and better personalisation of care, earlier diagnosis, more accurate patient history and understanding around progress, and even cost savings.
2. AI and robotics
As artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics continually evolve to be able to perform tasks just as well, if not better, and more efficiently than humans, the potential they have to transform healthcare is astounding. Using real-time patient data collected from things like the aforementioned wearables and turning it to AI tools like pattern recognition and predictive analytics could lead to more accurate and earlier diagnosis, better decision making and more tailored treatment on an individual patient level. Beyond that, AI technology could be used to streamline research, training and administrative processes to make greater strides in medical discovery and improvements in patient care, as well as helping to make Trusts more efficient and contributing to cost saving.
3. Big data
There’s an ongoing conversation particularly in the genomics space about the part that big data and blockchain could have in healthcare. After all, DNA is essentially data. The 100,000 Genomes Project has for the last 5 years sequenced 100,000 genomes from around 85,000 NHS patients affected by a rare disease or cancer. For the next 5 years, the government has declared that a minimum of one million genomes will be sequenced, representing an exponential increase in the amount of genomic data on file. Having access to this monumental amount of data is an exciting prospect for medical researchers – and again will require the help of additional technologies like AI in order for them to process, identify patterns, variants and anomalies.
4. Increased data security and privacy
Perhaps not an “emerging” trend – but one that seems to be gaining in importance each year. Since the updated data protection legislation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect last year, organisations in all sectors have been on high alert when it comes to processing personal data. Health and social care organisations are arguably the most strictly governed by these regulations, as in many cases they process such sensitive personal data. While the NHS centrally has developed a policy and guidance around GDPR, it’s vital that individual Trusts and CCGs propagate, see through and continually manage the measures put in place to ensure compliance. With that being said, there’s obviously still a need for the medical research community to have access to health data in order to drive vital medical breakthroughs. As the healthcare sector collects, uses and relies on more data – it’s important that there’s the right balance between accessibility, security and privacy.
To learn more about digital health trends, challenges and transformational journeys in healthcare, register for the upcoming Healthcare Partnership Network, 5th-6th November 2019 at Norton Park, Winchester. Over two days at a fantastic four-star venue, you’ll hear from experts in the field of innovation and transformation in healthcare about the real challenges they face everyday in their Trusts, and the strategies and technologies they have put in place to achieve their objectives.