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UK public wants NHS to invest more in tech



The majority of UK adults want to see the NHS invest more in technology – as speeding up diagnosis and treatment top the list of patient priorities, new research has found.

The research was commissioned by BT, which recently marked 75 years of collaboration with the health service.

It reveals that three in five (61 per cent) patients are frustrated with the time it takes to contact a medical professional, and a similar number (59 per cent) with delays in arranging an appointment.

Data from NHS England shows that 7.6 million people in England are waiting for hospital treatment, including 1.6 million waiting for diagnostic tests or scans, the highest figure since modern records began in 2007.

Professor Sultan Mahmud, BT’s Director of Healthcare, said: “The NHS is critically important to all of us, with a 75-year-strong track record of embracing new technology.

“However, as its challenges mount, we need to do more to make sure it’s equipped to keep up with patient demand.”

One area that promises to cut waiting lists is the use of digital technology to enable faster diagnosis and treatment and enable doctors to clear the patient backlog, quicker.

BT’s research suggests the public are ready to embrace innovation if it will help, with two thirds (64 per cent) believing technology is a worthwhile investment for the NHS.

Improving the speed of diagnosis and treatment are the public’s top NHS priorities, with nine in 10 (91 per cent) patients believing them to be the most important; making them as high a priority as the NHS remaining free at the point of entry (87 per cent).

This need is one of the key drivers pushing patients to the private sector, with almost two in five (38 per cent) saying they’d look outside the NHS if it meant faster treatment.

Similarly, 58 per cent agree that leveraging data and technology can enhance the NHS’s effectiveness in preventing illnesses and identifying risk factors earlier while more than a third (37 per cent) would support the use of AI to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the NHS.

Dr Paul Bhogal, Consultant Interventional Neuroradiologist and member of BT’s Clinical Advisory Board, added: “When we talk about the need to bring new technology to the NHS, we’re not talking about replacing doctors and nurses.

“We’re talking about taking tools that are already a part of everyday life elsewhere, and using them to make things quicker and easier for patients.”

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