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Old-fashioned processes are inhibiting rapid innovation across the NHS. Here’s how three other major healthcare systems around the world are approaching advances in technology.

The NHS could gain a lot from taking a different approach, where procurement teams review innovative products alongside clinicians, says Ms Hall. It could also learn from how other countries approach the issue.

  1. China: healthcare technology easing doctor shortage

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, there are 2.9 doctors to every 1,000 people in the UK, while there are two doctors to every 1,000 people in China.

In a country where there’s a shortage of medical professionals, millions of people also live in large rural areas without direct access to proper healthcare or treatment. It means they will often have to spend hours travelling long distances for a routine examination or check-up.

To get around the logistical issues of delivering and receiving healthcare, both doctors and patients rely on digital channels to communicate and for information. Kantar’s Digital Life Physician & Patient 2017 survey found that patients spend an average of 29.3 hours a week online, with more than a quarter of this time spent on medical-related activities. The figures for physicians are 29.2 hours a week and 53 per cent.

Chinese internet giant Tencent has built digital systems that enable patients to book appointments and pay for medical bills using WeChat. More recently, it has trialled a service where patients can have real-time online consultations through the messaging app.

In the future, artificial intelligence (AI) will help to solve the shortage of medical professionals; more than 130 companies are working on applying AI in China’s healthcare sector, as part of the government’s Made in China 2025 plan. AI-powered healthcare technology will improve the accuracy and speed of diagnoses, leading to improved outcomes for patients.

  1. Denmark: making the most of patient health data

The Nordic country has led the way when it comes to implementing ehealth solutions for the past couple of decades. Its public health service collects health data on all Danes, who can access their records via sundhed.dk. The online portal serves as a central access point for doctors and patients to view test results, prescriptions and treatment plans.

Privacy concerns aside, making anonymised data available for healthcare technology purposes can help healthcare professionals build a 360-degree picture of individuals’ health and lifestyle choices, including exercise and alcohol intake.

Both doctors and patients rely on digital channels to communicate and for information

The University of Copenhagen’s Centre for Protein Research was recently awarded a €93.5-million grant that will be used in part to collaborate with hospitals and understand how big data analytics can help to improve diagnoses and treatment efficacy, and develop new drugs.

The research centre can use the data from thousands of blood tests to examine how proteins in the blood can indicate the presence of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes. As a result, the health service could reduce costs by offering preventative treatment.

By analysing data patterns, it could also be possible to predict how a patient might react to a particular treatment. This would reduce clinical errors and medication side effects.

 

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