As the NHS gears up to celebrate its 75th anniversary this summer, Paul Johnson, CEO and Co-Founder of Radar Healthcare discusses the innovation it continues to inspire.
In health technology the focus is on looking forward. To create the new generation of software, to update and enhance systems, to innovate and break new ground.
We’ve seen a real acceleration in the pace of this innovation, especially since the pandemic, and it shows no signs of slowing.
It’s an interesting time to be in the health technology sector, as everyone involved want to use the best technology and utilise digital innovations to transform care delivery and help improve patient outcomes.
But as much as the future is exciting, it’s also important to reflect on the NHS’ digital journey over the past seven decades.
Throughout the last 75 years, the NHS has played a pivotal role in many life-changing innovations, not just here in the UK, but also globally.
It would be impossible to include all the technological innovation that’s been inspired and pioneered by the NHS, but there are some that stand out to me.
Take for example the technology used in maternity care.
In 1958 the suggestion by Glasgow obstetrician Ian Donald to use an industrial sonar on pregnant women must have raised a few eyebrows to say the least.
But today there are around 10m ultrasounds scans carried out each year in this country and millions more around the globe.
In the early nineties, the world’s first robot for surgery – called PROBOT – was designed by Imperial College London.
Its creation not only transformed how procedures could be carried out, but the smaller incision sites also resulted in improved patient recovery.
And in 2013 an NHS employee from Scotland developed the world’s first fully articulated prosthetic hand.
The i-limb was the first prosthetic hand that has five individually powered articulating digits which were able to bend at their joints.
The introduction of electronic health reports (EPRs) and electronic prescribing systems have also been technological game-changers, enabling an NHS overburdened by paper to move with more efficiency and accuracy.
Systems such as these have helped create one of the most valuable digital assets available to the NHS and its patients – data.
The holy grail of the NHS working with a single source of truth may yet to be achieved, but now, because of the systems available, it’s within grasp.
But what data has already achieved within the NHS has been nothing short of life saving.
Take for example how data is being used to support population health.
Health insight was at the very heart of identifying who was most at risk from Covid-19 and in turn how vaccination should be prioritised.
And it’s becoming increasingly used for improved health screening identification to support early intervention and in the use of pharmaceutical research.
It’s helping the NHS prevent and reduce incidents, through systems such as our own Radar Healthcare compliance platform, which enables clinicians, nurses, and NHS leaders to make more informed decisions based on real-time, real-life patient and health insights.
Fast-forward to today and the innovation being driven to support the NHS is just as impressive.
We’re seeing bursts of brilliance in the use of augmented reality in pre-surgery, virtual reality to enrich the lives of those suffering with dementia, a rise in virtual wards and wearables, and biomarkers being tracked by AI to speed up diagnosis and treatment for people with mental health conditions.
What’s more, health technology suppliers are working in closer partnerships not only with one another, but also the NHS, to help achieve the highly sort after goal of interoperability and data following freely across the whole health and social care ecosystem.
This is fundamental in improving outcomes across the whole of healthcare.
I’m excited to see what future innovation the NHS will inspire and want to say thank you to every one of you who work across the whole of the healthcare continuum for the passion and care you show every day.
To mark the 75th anniversary of the NHS, Radar Healthcare is asking people to share their heart-warming, funny or inspirational moments.
As a thank you, the team will donate £75 to charity for each of the five most captivating stories. Stories can be submitted here. #MyNHSStory