NHS must prepare staff properly for healthtech evolution

As reported by The Register, a new review shows that the NHS must properly prepare its staff for the quick pace of technological change before them

The NHS is being urged to prepare staff properly for the future of technology in the healthcare sector, according to a review commissioned by Matt Hancock.

The review, led by Eric Topol, a digital medicine researcher, shows that, in two decades’ time, around 90% of NHS jobs will require some form of digital skill.

The NHS has, therefore, been warned that it needs to plan technology investments carefully and keep on top of staff training.

The review considered the potential impact of AI, robotics, IoT and digital medicine, and who will need training on these topics.

This is all linked to the NHS’s Long Term Plan, which aims to boost healthtech considerably – something Hancock is passionate about.

The review states that the NHS must ensure patients benefit from new technology, and that it is not simply being adopted for show.

The service should also be investing in its existing workforce using ongoing training, and aim to shift the company culture towards innovation at all levels.

‘Uneven NHS data quality, gaps in information governance and lack of expertise remain major barriers’ to the adoption of advances in computing power and analytics, the Topol review says.

‘The complexity of data governance requirements should not be a reason for inaction’.

It continued: ‘As it can take up to 10 years to realise cost savings, investment in IT systems, hardware, software and connectivity, as well as the training of healthcare staff and the public, will have to be planned carefully’.

In a speech to launch the review, Hancock emphasised the need for consistency as technology shifts, as well as a need to make the best use of existing tech.

“Right now, Tesco has more sophisticated and more efficient systems than the NHS. They know who you are through loyalty cards, where you shop through store IDs, and what you buy through the items scanned at the checkout,” he said.

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“In the NHS, we don’t have anything like that. We don’t use common identifiers to identify patients, we don’t know which hospitals a patient has been to, we don’t know which medicines have been put into them. We don’t even know what we already know!

“A world in which a hospital can’t pull up a patient’s GP record to see the reason for stopping and starting medications is downright dangerous.”

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