What's in store for NHS technology in 2018

Published 14 February 2018

GlobalData healthcare senior analyst Neha Ralhan looks into her crystal ball and predicts significant change, both this year and beyond


With 2018 well underway it's time to think about what is in store for the NHS for the year. The last year saw a discernible change with how the NHS engages with technology and what is increasingly expected from the technology industry as we inch closer to a comprehensively eHealth landscape.

First off, Trusts and CCGs are becoming more receptive towards cloud. This is in large part due to the greater maturity now of cloud offerings but also as a result of feedback from respected sources such as the Caldicott Review that stated cloud computing is considered safe and viable. Standards (internally at present, as opposed to NHS-wide) are being developed to further embrace cloud solutions. Furthermore, clinical staff are voicing a clear preference for flexible systems to access and action information beyond traditional hospital campuses. This is in line with a more patient centric NHS in which greater access to personal data is increasingly being sought, thus adding weight to the cloud mandate.

Secondly, interoperable systems are no longer considered a 'nice to have', but rather 'a must'. NHS technology partners are increasingly being assessed on their ability to compliment the clinical landscape and their ability to share data across the ecosystem. This has tangible benefits for care but before organisations can realise benefits it requires putting their house in order. In real terms this means developing or adopting established data standards, greater quality assurance for data and finally digitisation of data and imagery to allow for easier interoperability through system procurement and implementation.

Thirdly, the shift for procuring solutions as opposed to individual products is real and reaching critical mass. The proliferation of platform solutions rather than apps is being heightened as organisations seek value through data-centric systems. This has benefits for both IT vendors as well as organisations as 'whole picture' solutions that exist within the larger clinical ecosystem allow for scaling, integration and agility. The age of siloed solutions and systems is coming to an end.

Lastly, the concept of Big Data continues to be more theoretical than practical within the NHS with it being applied to health population health research for the most part. The adoption of EPRs and associated systems as well as a focus on the digitalisation of historically paper based records and imagery has the potential to expedite the integration of Big Data in the clinical environment. Coupled with at-home monitoring and complimentary care that can be tracked through wearables and alternative technology streams (e.g. weather forecasting) the volume of meaningful data has never been greater. The integration of Big Data across established clinical systems will see greater 'action' in clinical and health service decision-making. This will become a well subscribed area of focus as it allows for lower costs of commissioning while seeing greater clinical gains through prevention and early intervention.

Due to marginal gains made in the last few years across the healthcare sector in the UK, 2018 and beyond will see large scale change being realised. Adaptation and digital maturity is at an all time high and the NHS and technology vendors need to work closely more than ever to forge meaningful partnerships to ensure wider system change continues to gain traction in this year.


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