techUK has launched a Life Sciences workstream, bringing together members actively working in drug discovery, digital therapeutics, data and AI, or those interested in moving into this space. As the Life Sciences sector looks to introduce digital health technologies into its portfolio, techUK are shaping the conversation.
Updates in HealthTech
A flurry of announcements across digital health has highlighted the Government’s recognition that technology is critical to tackling major challenges facing the NHS. The announcements summarised below form part of plans, trailed ahead of the NHS’s 75th birthday next week, designed to equip the NHS with the latest tools to improve citizen outcomes, save staff time, and ease pressures on services.
These announcements have included:
- NHS Long Term Workforce Plan
- £21 million to rollout artificial intelligence in the NHS
- New digital health check to tackle cardiovascular disease
- £96 million from the NIHR for technology to support disease prevention and management
As ever, it is fantastic to see a renewed focus and increased funding for digital, data, and technology which are essential if the UK is to reduce the elective backlog and ready the NHS, not only for winter pressures, but longer-term forces including an ageing population and rising prevalence of comorbidities.
Engaging with the technology industry to understand current and potential blockers to the adoption and scale-up of these technologies will be key to getting these commitments right from the start. techUK will continue our work with the NHS Transformation Directorate, Department for Health & Social Care, integrated care systems and other key bodies, bringing together government and industry to help realise the benefits of digital technologies. In a workshop with the UK Government AI Council earlier this week, techUK members shared their views on potential challenges with procuring, regulating, and delivering AI technologies within the NHS.
Please find below a summary of these announcements where relevant to the digital health and care sector.
This plan set out three pillars: train, retain, reform. The aspects of the plan dealing with digital skills and technologies falls within reform, and sets out plans to:
- Meet the changing healthcare needs of the population in a cost-effective way by taking advantage of digital and technological innovations.
- Use AI and virtual wards to free up staff time and improve efficiency of services in areas such as diagnostics and administration.
- Convene an expert group to explore where AI can best be used, and what steps are needed to support NHS staff.
- Develop and test new approaches for managing major conditions such as cardiac and respiratory disease.
- NHS Trusts will be able to bid for funding to accelerate the deployment of AI tools across hospitals.
- The Government has committed to deploying AI decision support tools in all stroke networks by the end of 2023 to help treat strokes.
- An AI Diagnostic Fund, for technology including tools to analyse chest X-Rays.
- A new digital check will be introduced alongside the existing in-person NHS Health Check and is expected to deliver an additional 1 million checks over 4 years.
- The check can help spot early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia.
- Patients will be able to access the check via a mobile phone, tablet, or computer, completing an online questionnaire.
- The results will be available online and direct people to personalised advice, with referrals to GPs made if further tests and treatment are needed.
- The investment will support over 90 NHS organisations to grow research capacity, including in less research-focussed Trusts.
- 55% of funding will go to NHS Organisations outside of the Greater South-East.
- It includes equipment for primary care research expansion (e.g. genomic sequencing) in Integrated Care Systems across the East Midlands, and mobile research units across seven regions in England.
Health and Social Care Programme
With health and care systems around the globe facing increasing pressures, the use of digital technology has never been more important. Supporting a vibrant ecosystem with the potential to become a world leader, techUK is helping its members navigate the complex space of digital health and care in the UK and ensure our NHS is prepared for the challenges of the future.
The Interoperability Working Group will work towards achieving the vision set out in NHS England’s 2022 draft standards and interoperability strategy. The group will aim to encourage the adoption of open standards and fluidity of data whilst recognising the commercial needs of members. It will also focus on demonstrating the value of interoperability to NHS senior management and improving the abilities of SMEs to implement interoperability standards.
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