Technological innovations to shape UK health and social care in 2020

Last year was an eventful year in the world of UK health and social care, capped off with a Conservative general election win that sets to shape the industry amidst the looming uncertainty of Brexit. As we enter a new decade, 2020 is poised to be even more eventful with the structural landscape shifting, technological promises being made and innovations continuing to filter into the mainstream.

There were numerous signals throughout the election campaign, manifestos and public addresses suggesting what the priorities for the UK health and social care sector may be in the years to come with some pre-emptive moves already being made. Jonathan Cordwell, Principal Health & Social Care Analyst at GlobalData, has picked out three of the ten predictions, which he believes should be on the radars of NHS organisations and technology suppliers alike:

Telecare and mobility

“The drive to deploy fibre broadband connectivity by all major parties during the general election will provoke a rejuvenated interest in telemedicine and telecare. This will especially be beneficial to those living in rural areas who have, to date, struggled to access online public services. Expect to see growth in home automation technologies utilising AI such as smart speakers in an effort to empower the general public to better manage their own care at home and avoid unnecessary visits to hospitals, A&E departments and GPs.

“On top of this, we are starting to see the gradual introduction of 5G into the market. Although national coverage is not on the immediate horizon, it will spur innovations in areas such as the ambulatory sector to aid paramedics in providing specialised care whilst out in the field and communicating back to the hospital in real-time.”

Robotic process automation

“Despite pledges of additional resources, the staffing shortage will rage on and care teams will continue to be stretched. In order to combat this, there will be shifts of responsibilities as duties which require less specialised skills are passed down to trainees and administrative staff. This will be coupled with the increasingly strategic usage of robotic process automation solutions which will handle the mundane, laborious and repetitive tasks taking up valuable time.

“To date, the usage of robotic process automation solutions has been somewhat limited to low-hanging fruit in the form of specific processes that can derive immediate and demonstrable value. Over time, organisations will start to apply this technology in a more enterprise-wide, strategic manner.”

Data Access

“Unrestricted access to UK medical records is reported to be worth almost £10bn annually. It is clear that the Conservative government recognises this as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his intention for the UK to become a ‘leading global hub for life sciences’. A subsequent meeting organised by the Office for Life Sciences, which brought together representatives from NHS, large tech and pharma organisations, confirmed this intention as they discussed the best way to access and utilize NHS data going forward.

“The NHS may not even receive direct financial returns from the access to its data but instead it may simply benefit from the resulting innovations. That being said, there are obvious arguments against NHS data being made available to large corporations, especially in the midst of growing cybersecurity threats and so the NHS must tread carefully.”

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