In the first of our special three-part series, future health, our panel of Ascom experts Phil Stuart-Douek, Fiona Kirk, Janine Thomas and Sophie Evans discuss their predictions for the next big tech transformation in health and social care.
Phil Stuart-Douek: Big Data. The sheer volume of data that is collected across healthcare environments now is staggering - but currently the majority goes on to sit on a dusty shelf, left unused.
Having that data available in a format that is easily accessible will mean that research projects that would have required weeks, or months, of data collection can be completed in moments. Having all their data available at the point of care will not only benefit the patients, but may also reveal trends and patterns, previously unseen and give everyone involved in planning healthcare provision a huge advantage. Having this data available will also pave the way for AI to be used to assist in research, predict trends and model care for the future.
Janine Thomas: We will need more digital eyes and ears – and wearable and integrated technologies can help here. Automated real time digital monitoring of patients from integrated medical devices such as pumps and ventilators is being introduced in ICUs across NHS Wales. This will provide rich contextual data sets to inform patient care. Imagine the benefits of a ward where nurses are presented with real-time early warning scores for all patients - without needing to be at the bedside to take the readings - releasing nurses from labour intensive routines and giving early sight of the deteriorating patient
Sophie Evans: There will be a complete transformation of care environments thanks to innovation. It’s something we’re already seeing as the number of virtual wards increase and more remote monitoring is offered to patients in long-term care and for those people living with chronic health conditions. There will no longer be the physical barriers of a GP surgery or a hospital, care will be delivered in a wider variety of places.
Digital innovation will enable preventative care to become a reality. Not just to prevent those living with chronic conditions from needing acute care, but also to monitor closely those who are most vulnerable in our communities, such the elderly, so we can prevent rapid decline, falls, and spot the early signs of diseases such as dementia.
Technology can make our population healthier and enable more people to live longer, independent lives.
Fiona Kirk: The role of AI in precision medicine will dramatically transform healthcare, especially within immunotherapy for cancer. Of course, the goal will always be to find a cure for cancer but imagine if technology could help make the fight that much more successful and manageable to live with.
We will need more digital eyes and ears – and wearable and integrated technologies can help here.
About the Ascom Future Health panel
Phil Stuart-Douek has more than 30 years’ experience as a registered nurse working within A&E departments, intensive care, neurosurgical and vascular surgical wards. For the past 12 years Phil has used his experience working on the frontline of healthcare, including volunteering as a community first responder for the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, and as a clinical consultant for health technology businesses.
Fiona Kirk’s career started with 20 years in the NHS as a ward sister in a high acuity Neurosurgical ward in Liverpool and a midwife in Durham, before joining transfusion diagnostics specialist, Quotient, and medical device brands Medela UK and Molnlycke Health Care.
Sophie Evans is a registered nurse. She worked within the NHS for more than seven years as a surgical staff nurse and then a critical care nurse at Wales’ largest critical care unit at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.
Janine Thomas is a registered nurse. She’s a clinical informatics nurse specialist, having previously worked with Wolverhampton City Primary Care Trust and AGFA Healthcare UK.