Amara Nwosu

MBCHB MRCP PhD

The future of digital health? the King’s Fund Digital Health and Care Congress 2017

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Much written about the potential to use digital tools to reform healthcare, concentrate on the short to medium term (i.e. 5- 10 years). However, many of the benefits from digital health will only be fully realised in the longer (i.e. >10 years) term. This is because benefits arising from disruptive technologies may only be achieved following the implementation of cultural, workforce and infrastructural change, which can take time to achieve.

The King’s Fund Digital Health Conference recenty took place across two days in London (11th – 12th July) and provided an opportunity for profesionals from different disciplines to discuss how digital technologies can be used to transform healthcare delivery in the long term. There were several speakers and workstream groups which covered discussion of the opportunities and challenges of these approaches, in addittion to providing many examples of current use of technological and workplace innovation.

Particular highlights for me was Rob Shaw’s (Interim Chief Executive for NHS Digital) talk about the NHS Digital’s perpective on the importance of utilising health data better to provide integrated care. Also, Nicola Perrin (Wellcome Trust) provided an overview of the ‘Understanding Pataient Data’ project, which looks to improve awareness in society (professionals and lay people) about the value of using healthcare data to support patient care. Furthermore, the Wellcome Trust this year will undertake a project which will examine public perceptions of the role of new emerging technology (e.g. artificial intelligence, machine learning) in healthcare.

Many of the talks at the conference had inter-connecting themes; highlighting the importance of forming policy to shape culture through engagement of wider society and professionals. Although there is evidence of innovative work in several areas, a lot of fragmentation is currenty present. Consequently, it is important for collaborations of partners with a shared common vision for digital health.

As an academic palliative medicine physician I am interested in the potential digital health applications to support the management of people with serious illness. If anyone is also interested in undertaking work in this area, please feel free to contact me.

Further information of the King’s Fund Digital Health Conference (and other events by the King’s Fund) can be found here:

https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/events/digital-health-and-care-congress-2017

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