The UKs National Health Service (NHS) is under more pressure than ever before. Higher patient numbers combined with cuts in the amount of money it receives from the government and that both the staff and the infrastructure they rely on,have pushed the NHS to the limit. The service is, however, still providing some excellent care and with the integration of a range of new technology, it may only be a matter of time before the service turns a corner. Here we examine how new technology could help the NHS to improve quality and reduce costs.

The Health and Social Care Network

One of the ways that the NHS is looking to improve the way data is stored and shared is through the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN). The HSCN is an updated and improved version of the N3 Network initiative and allows end users to access and share information cost efficiently and with a high degree of flexibility. The HSCN works in partnership with third parties like Redcentric in order to provide the technological framework for enhanced connectivity in the NHS.

A much-needed review of how the NHS approach cyber security is also part of the HSCN initiative and so information kept on the network will also be safer from threats posed by hackers for example. And HSCN is not the only technology led initiative that the NHS is involved in.

Artificial Intelligence and Data Science

The NHS recently announced a partnership with two leading healthcare organisations; The Alan Turing Institute and the NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR UCLH BRC). The partnerships will focus on the collecting of data and then using it to help with diagnostics and treatments.

“The NHS routinely collects data that is analysed to develop research, track performance and measure outcomes but we could do so much more with the information we collect. Imagine a world where we could use this data to develop algorithms to rule out diseases, suggest treatment plans or predict behaviour….that is more than possible with the wealth of data we have available and the expertise at The Alan Turing Institute. The partnership has the potential to tackle some of the big issues that the NHS has never been able to solve”.Professor Bryan Williams, Director of the NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre and Director of Research at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Although the consensus will remain that primary healthcare should and will essentially remain a people led concern where patients are seen to by doctors and nurses, the benefits that are brought about by the introduction of new and improved technology will come as welcome relief for all concerned.

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