Our Predictions for Digital Health in 2021
No one could have predicted the challenges of 2020, or its impact on the healthcare service. We witnessed doctors, nurses and other key workers perform their duties admirably to find and contain the spread of COVID-19, while maintaining as many routine, non-urgent services as possible.
The landscape completely shifted for health technology too, with experts suggesting the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital health and virtual care by at least three years. Next-generation digital solutions such as telecare and Artificial Intelligence are becoming mainstream, and analytics solutions were essential to inform planning while the NHS fought to keep the wheels turning.
After such an unparalleled year, what we can expect over the next twelve months? Here are some of our predictions:
Virtual care is here to stay
With so many routine treatments cancelled or postponed, the NHS will be tackling a swath of rescheduled appointments in 2021 and beyond. While the NHS has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to maintain routine services, recent statistics suggest the number of patients on waiting lists for more than a year is 123 times larger than 2019.
While there had been a rise in the use of virtual consultations before the pandemic, 2020 saw a meteoric leap in the adoption of remote care. With social distancing likely to be mandatory for the foreseeable future, we expect virtual care to be the preferred course of action in both primary and secondary care.
We introduced a series of product enhancements to help clinicians and care providers navigate the shift from in-person appointments to virtual consultations. You can read more about our latest solutions here.
Greater joined-up care by integrating diagnostic services
Patients who are diagnosed earlier have the best chance of curative treatment and remission, and yet only 55% of cancers are detected early in England, which has worsened as a result of COVID-19.
We expect to see more collaborative working to help ease the burden on siloed diagnostic services namely radiology, pathology, and lab medicine. With better access to data, we have the opportunity to deploy business intelligence and clinical workflow optimisation tools to provide better visibility of cases, and management of resources.
We are working closely with our new owners, Citadel Health and are now able to offer Australia’s market leading LIMS medical system to the UK, which is the next step in our strategy to support fully integrated diagnostic services in the UK.
2021 will be a pivotal year for Artificial Intelligence
One of the biggest barriers to successful AI adoption has been the potential for new technologies to disrupt workflow. Now more than ever we need solutions that optimise efficiency where demand outweighs supply, for example in radiology. In diagnostic imaging, AI is helping doctors prioritise cases where irregularities have been identified in X-rays and other scans. The earlier concerns are raised, the quicker a patient can receive appropriate treatment.
As part of our commitment to make the adoption of AI a seamless reality, we launched our vendor neutral AI Connect platform. Used in conjunction with our dedicated AI Connect Marketplace, we offer a single point of reference for organisations looking to introduce AI algorithms within their radiology workflow. You can find out more about the platform here.
It is hard to know what this year will bring, but we expect digital health to be pivotal in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. Thank you to all of our customers, to the NHS and to all keyworkers for leading from the front.