The extreme pressures currently faced by healthcare systems are difficult to ignore. Limited funding, an ageing population, and the ongoing COVID-19 backlog are rendering the smooth running of healthcare systems across the globe ever more difficult.
Tech is omnipresent in our day-to-day lives, providing solutions to the problems we face and facilitating the effectiveness of existing practices. With the strains faced by healthcare ever increasing, could advances in healthtech and digital health solutions alleviate the adversity this vital industry is currently facing?
Technology investment despite adversity
Despite investment across industries slowing as we battle through a period of economic uncertainty, investment in healthtech has bucked this trend. Over the past few years, spending on healthtech and digital solutions by organisations in the healthcare industry has continued to grow.
Last year, the UK health software and IT services market grew more than 21%, and whilst spending will slow after the pandemic-induced boost, the predicted compound annual growth rate for health tech spending will remain at nearly 6% through to 2025. This rate of growth is mirrored across the globe, with the US also projected to see their digital health market grow by some 7% between 2023 and 2027.
It appears that, despite economic downturn, healthcare services globally are increasingly turning to tech to help meet their biggest challenges.
The best investments in healthcare
With healthcare across the globe facing an array of difficulties, there are plenty of opportunities for tech that can aid efficiency and amplify productivity with the goal of minimising the existing pressures. This could be through the likes of intelligent automation, AI support in diagnostics, virtual wards or referral management.
More fundamentally, health and care organisations still need to be better connected digitally – both internally and between organisations - and better able to derive valuable insights from the wealth of data they hold.
An example is how the NHS plans to develop Integrated Care Systems (ICS). ICSs have been asked to make better use of data to support frictionless working between the NHS, local government, and other partners to address long-term challenges across health and care.
At the conception of the NHS in 1948, its primary focus was to treat short periods of sickness. This has changed. People now live longer, with complex and often multiple conditions. The need for individuals to access various services and professionals simultaneously has driven the need for integration and communication between health and care services, with shared care records, to enhance the patient experience and improve the quality of care.
Deriving greater insights from the vast quantities of data hidden within health and care systems is also key to improving services and ultimately saving lives. When freed from siloes, anonymised data can generate insights that enable more informed and accurate decisions to support population health, improve waiting list management and drive value in the supply chain. It is benefits like these that the NHS is hoping to see from the planned Federated Data Platform, which is currently being procured with a total contract value estimated at some £480m.
Despite being perennial challenges, integration and data sharing are predicted to remain priorities for the NHS and other national healthcare systems alike, with the goal to become more effective and efficient, leading to better health outcomes and better experiences for patients and staff.
Health tech: A beacon of hope for healthcare
There is no simple solution to the crisis that healthcare is facing. Yet, technology can play a vital part in alleviating the existing struggles.
Health tech will increasingly be called upon to improve efficiency and reduce the pressures faced by healthcare systems, ultimately improving the ability of these organisations to cope with the population’s changing health requirements.
As investment in health tech continues to expand, not only will we see health services changing, but the opportunity will arise for new suppliers and new technologies to contribute to the successful evolution of resilient healthcare systems.