UK’s COVID-19 response will shape digital health for years to come, says GlobalData

The UK National Health Service (NHS) has been forced to rapidly adapt its digital stance in the fight against the COVID-19. These digital shifts are not only a great way for Information Communication Technology (ICT) suppliers to showcase their capabilities but also provide an opportunity to create blueprints for other healthcare providers, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s latest report, ‘Stick or Twist: Digital Health after COVID-19’, highlights ten key ways in which the NHS is leveraging digital technologies in response to COVID-19 which includes data sharing, a new digital platform, Techforce19 funded innovations and virtual smartcards as well as analyzing which have the potential to engrain themselves into the DNA of the NHS after the crisis has subsided.

Jonathan Cordwell, Principal Analyst, UK Health & Social Care Technology at GlobalData commented: “The UK is accelerating the development of ICT innovations such as virtual smartcards, digital passports and contact tracing apps to assist in the national response. While some may be limited in their use cases outside of the pandemic, others are benefitting from the increased attention.

“Single sign-on solutions hit the headlines in January after the UK Government announced £40m of investment to reduce the amount of time wasted with staff accessing numerous ICT systems. NHS Digital recently procured a virtual smartcard solution with Isosec that aims to do just that and will prove vital in the new Nightingale hospitals opening up across the UK to tackle COVID-19.’’

No man is an island when it comes to pandemics and the COVID-19 response is no exception. The technology sector has witnessed several examples of high-profile partnerships to leverage individual areas of expertise for the greater good.

Cordwell continues: ‘‘One of the most impressive examples of collaboration in the UK is the consortium between tech giants Google, Amazon (AWS) and Microsoft, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) specialist Faculty and big data analytics enigma Palantir. The resulting data platform will help the NHS to efficiently deploy staff and equipment to meet the surge in demand.’’

The industry has also seen a relaxation in procurement policies, as well as less strict data security and privacy regulations. If successful, the bureaucracy of previous policies and regulations could be brought into question.

Cordwell adds: “The decision to process and share confidential patient information for disease surveillance or genomics purposes will greatly assist the UK’s fight against the coronavirus but could also potentially leave the system vulnerable to cyber-attacks, misuse or negligence amid the chaos.”

Assisting the NHS with new innovations or flexible commercial models will position vendors well for the projected increase in ICT procurement spurred on by the UK Government’s cancellation of £13.4bn historical NHS debt.

Information based on GlobalData’s report: ‘Stick or Twist: Digital Health after COVID-19

More Media