With a new year upon us, we’ve been asking health tech leaders to look to the year ahead and share their perspectives on digital priorities for 2024. Read more from Highland Marketing’s market leading clients
We’ve been looking ahead to 2024 and asking health tech leaders what they expect to see in health tech this year. The chair of our advisory board, Jeremy Nettle, argues that with a general election approaching, the NHS needs a period of stability to address the pressures it is facing.
Yet, despite the challenges, our clients expect to see advances in electronic patient records and shared care records, and exciting developments in everything from imaging to the deployment of AI. After all, they stress, technology is no longer a luxury but an essential component in delivering a more efficient and effective NHS – capable of meeting the needs of a complex, digital society.
Jeremy Nettle, chair of the Highland Marketing advisory board, said:
“We are all aware that the NHS is facing significant pressure. The Covid backlog, workforce shortages, and growing financial deficits can only escalate if they are not addressed as the country moves towards a general election.
“Whichever party forms the next government will find that additional funding is going to be necessary – even if it is linked to more “reform” – and it needs to be linked to the greater use of technology.
“Technology is no longer a nice thing to have. It is essential to deliver a more efficient and effective NHS that is able to respond to the needs of our complex, digitising society.
“Unfortunately, organisations have been starved of the capital they need to invest in basic infrastructure and core systems, and too much IT funding is reserved for national programmes. A big idea for that new government would be to give digital leaders the stability they need to make sustained investments.
“We also need to address social care and the social determinants of health. But only a sustainable, long-term approach can work through the challenges, with technology being at the heart, to provide a world class service.”
Paul Charnley, senior healthcare advisor for St Vincents Consulting, said:
“This year is going to be hard financially, and there will be uncertainty as we approach a general election. Responding to service pressures will cause those with electronic patient records to look to optimise the benefits from their investment. We will shift our attention from who has EPRs to who is using them to best effect.
“More digital services will move to the cloud and the NHS will need to learn how to manage the process in a more coordinated way across integrated care systems.
“Cyber security is still a very real threat to the NHS and someone somewhere in the health and care system will succumb to a cyber-attack. People will learn from it, but security is a constant battle and it will be well worth continuing to harden our defenses and practice our response.”
Mark Hindle, vice president, EMEA, Orion Health, said:
“It’s going to be a busy year in the shared care records space. Every integrated care system has a shared care record in place, so NHS England is focused on making sure they are used. It also wants to see these records developed.
“ICSs have been asked to draw up plans for what is known as the minimum viable solution 2, and we will be helping our customers to achieve it. A third area of focus is sharing care plans through the National Record Locator Service. We’d like to see the NHS adopt another standard, the International Patient Summary, for sharing a minimum dataset for safe care.
“If it did, it would finally deliver on Tony Blair’s vision of data being available from Newcastle to Newquay. And that’s the big picture for 2024. We need to make sure shared care records have a sustainable funding model beyond the coming year, and that they are fully embedded in the health service.
“That means: used for every care transaction; as the basis for population health initiatives; to empower patients; and to support the extension of treatment choice that both the Conservatives and Labour are advocating as we approach a general election.”
Jane Rendall, UK and Ireland managing director for Sectra, said:
“Public cloud is now being put to the test in NHS diagnostic imaging and 2024 will see results emerge from early adopters. With that, there is a distinct likelihood of accelerated uptake across NHS imaging networks, eager to embrace associated rapid deployments, scalability, cross-site collaboration, enhanced security and more.
“This will support the further break-down of historic silos, with conversations around the closer alignment of disciplines like cardiology into an increasingly integrated diagnostic enterprise imaging environment.
“An almost aggressive agenda to scale imaging maturity frameworks will also see networks and integrated care boards leading the charge to better support diagnostic reporters and patients at a regional level. On their agenda: data driven decisions; equitable access for those in most need; and the delivery of mechanisms to embrace AI at scale where it can make most impact.”
Dr Mark Ratnarajah, practising NHS paediatrician and UK managing director for C2-Ai, said:
“A new understanding of the changing clinical risk of individual patients at-scale will help to transform patient safety approaches in 2024.
“Trailblazing trusts and integrated care boards have received world-stage attention during the past 12 months for the impact delivered for patients on elective waiting lists. Using augmented intelligence, they have identified hidden high-risk patients, and prioritised their treatment urgency or supported them to wait well, based on a new understanding of their outcome trajectory.
“Results observed will see similar risk stratification become more widespread in 2024, and a deeper impact as ICBs use intelligence for system design, so providers can configure and harness collective resource, instead of facing backlog challenges in isolation.
“Clinical risk adjustment – a term to encapsulate this expanding intelligence – has the potential to transform safety and historic business models in countless areas: from hospital acquired infections, to maternity, and even beyond health into the life sciences sector.”
James Morriss, director of business development for SPARK TSL, said:
“The new year isn’t only about new technologies in the NHS, but about making innovative use of existing assets for patient benefit. Growing numbers of trusts are exploring how they can use their infrastructure in creative ways to supercharge the use of important, but often under-utilised, applications.
“For example, more and more hospitals are excited by the opportunity to transform wi-fi log-in screens and bedside terminals that they have already paid for, into libraries of information and digital applications. Their aims: to make valuable digital tools accessible, engage and orient patients in their care, and significantly improve experience.
“Approaches being explored could significantly alleviate pressure on busy wards – reassuring patients and providing answers, often before they even need to ask a busy nurse a question. Doing this effectively requires new thinking and collaboration that transcends disciplines and departments. 2024 will be the year to make this happen.”
Paul Bailey, general manager of Mindray UK, said:
“This year will see technology integration and connectivity at the centre of supporting the challenges faced by healthcare. It’s all about efficiency – enhanced, connected monitoring to help clinicians improve safety, respond quickly to deterioration, deliver treatments faster and reduce waiting times.
“A requirement to enable clinical teams to make significant decisions at the point of care with clear, concise information, will be met with new urgency to connect data from different devices. Patient monitors, defibrillators, ventilators, infusion devices, ultrasound, and other technologies, will increasingly converge data to allow multiple information sources to be accessed from one screen.
“Consolidated data displays will support more accurate understanding of patient risks, making it easier for staff to recognise deterioration based on richer information that could also allow early warning scoring systems to be developed. All suppliers must support this direction of travel – enabling their devices to interoperate for the benefit of patient care.”