With the arrival of Covid-19 in the UK in early 2020, the healthcare sector has faced an urgent need for digital innovation which has also led to the adoption of new rules and regulations within the industry.

The NHS and private hospitals immediately adapted to advanced technologies, which would otherwise have taken years to implement. In less than a year, remote working platforms, electronic medical record configurations, telemedicine and other technologies suddenly became the norm. 

With healthtech experiencing its biggest year yet, what does the future hold for innovations in the healthcare sector? 

Artificial intelligence

While the use of AI in the health sector had already proved its worth, the pandemic has come to accentuate the immediate need for an even more automated approach to the industry. AI engines have the ability to significantly reduce the risk of preventable medical scenarios through algorithms that generate automations and intelligent predictions. As this technology can be used in a wide range of healthcare procedures, it is evident that it will only continue to grow. Indeed, by 2021, AI is expected to have a significant impact on the health sector, with further improvements already beginning to transform the way hospitals operate. Only recently it was announced that scientists have created an AI tool that detects Alzheimer’s disease through speech. NVIDIA also recently announced the development of an AI supercomputer, the data from which will be used to support drug discovery and healthcare research in the UK.

These are all events that have driven AI technologies into healthcare and there is no doubt that we will continue to see significant advances within the industry. However, regardless of such advances, the adoption of future solutions will depend on the level of confidence that can be placed in them. A challenge that AIs are still facing today.

Telemedicine solutions

With hospital overcrowding constituting a major challenge this past year, check-ups and other appointments that do not require a physical presence have been directed to telemedicine solutions. Telemedicine’s potential is undeniable and its capabilities are set to grow following its strong implementation in national hospitals over the past year.

It was confirmed that face-to-face medical consultations in the UK decreased from over 70% before the pandemic to just over 23% in just a few weeks. 

This impressive decline correlates with the adoption of telemedicine solutions by a majority of healthcare organisations in an effort to reduce the impact of the new restrictions on the healthcare system.

The benefits of online patient consultations and the delivery of care via video are obvious. They allow health professionals to monitor and treat high-risk patients while avoiding exposing both parties to the risk of contracting the virus. In addition, they reduce hospital overcrowding while saving time to healthcare professionals who can focus more effectively on care rather than on administrative tasks.

By integrating efficient videoconferencing software, such as Microsoft Teams, into an existing healthcare management solution, hospitals can significantly improve their operational facilities. The ability to record and run virtual appointments from a single database significantly reduces the time spent on manual data entry.

Following the successful implementation of telemedicine in the NHS and private hospitals in the UK, it is very likely that this innovation is here to stay. However, as organisations and hospitals are still in transition towards a more technology-driven sector, limitations such as the provision of necessary patient equipment, such as health tracking wearables, still need to be addressed. Nevertheless, for most routine medical matters, telemedicine remains the safest and most efficient way to carry out general check-ups and appointments for both parties.

 Improving interoperability 

Most healthcare organisations have accelerated their transition to more effective patient management.

Technology has played a key role in improving internal communication between healthcare providers and between healthcare providers and patients. For example, improved integrations have enabled more efficient and safer transitions of care, which are already resulting in better patient outcomes.

Hospitals looking to fully adopt technology in their operations management should focus on integrating software solutions that can evolve along with them.

With the pandemic driving the digital transformation of the healthcare system, hospital information systems such as Compucare now offer secure integrations to enable communication with a wide range of third party specialist systems such as radiology, pathology and imaging. This access to additional support can only lead to more accurate and faster diagnosis and treatment plans.

While healthtech companies are able to offer secure and regulatory compliant integrations, in an effort to provide advanced care, an important factor to consider is the need for training that accompanies this new technology. Medical personnel should be able to cope with this “digital revolution” and should receive the training necessary to develop the skills required to ensure the sustainability of our transformed healthcare sector. Essential computer skills and digital software training are elements that hospitals should consider as equally important to implementation. Without skills in the use of the latest tools or online solutions, growth opportunities are missed and funds wasted. 

In conclusion, to take full advantage of the next steps in technology, it is important to match the great potential of these technologies with the realities of the healthcare sector.