Prime Minister told now is the time for reshaping our approach to innovation in health systems

System-wide adoption of technology can enable transformative change says report

23rd August 2021 about a 3 minute read
“We are fully supportive of the priorities you identify where digital solutions can really help, many of which are particularly relevant to NHSX.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson

System-wide adoption of technology could enable transformative change that would benefit the nation’s health and wellbeing and promote economic growth, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been told.

Sir Patrick Vallance and Lord John Browne, co-chairs of the Council for Science and Technology said in a letter introducing their report, Harnessing technology for the long-term sustainability of the UK’s healthcare system:

“Now is the time for a reshaping of our approach to innovation in the health system, in line with the government ambition of improving integration of care and levelling up the health of local areas across the UK.

“We offer advice to harness this momentum and unleash the power of technology to support better outcomes for patients, the workforce and the nation.”

 The report identifies two areas of opportunity for change and makes three recommendations.

Priority 1: Supporting a step-change to improve and maintain population health, centred around new ways of engaging and supporting individuals and communities, enabled by data and evidence.

The report says a systems approach to improving population health should start with looking across how national and local government policies shape the places where we live and work (and the choices open to us) and encourage working together to support a “Health for All Policies” approach.

Priority 2: Re-engineering the health system to support integrated ‘pathways’ for prevention, treatment and care and better outcomes for individuals.

The report points out digital consultation tools, diagnostics and advances in remote monitoring and increased use of hospital at home allow more treatment and care to be delivered in the community.

The 3 recommendations are:

  1. The government should establish at least 2 Demonstrator regions to test the system-wide application and integration of healthcare technologies. Demonstrators will encompass the entire health system in a representative population of varied demographics. They will trial new interoperable systems, integrated technologies and redesigned pathways. They should run for 5 to 10 years to enable iteration and constructive evaluation.
  2. To complement this, a ‘National Centre for Health System Improvement’ should be set up to work with the Demonstrators to advise, design and evaluate system changes, and build the capacity and skills needed for local, regional and wholescale system transformation centred on people’s needs.
  3. Finally, the government should work with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), regulators and the research community to promote the development of an evidence base to underpin effective use of digital health technologies to explore how digital solutions lead to better outcomes in care and system efficiency.

The Prime Minister replied: “We are fully supportive of the priorities you identify where digital solutions can really help, many of which are particularly relevant to NHSX.”

*FCC and National Care Forum’s joint response to the National Data Strategy is available here.