Interview with Lisa Hollins, Former Director of Innovation, NHSX
Patients are happier, healthier and more empowered.
In 2030, the last place you go for healthcare is the hospital. Indeed, the big difference between 2020 and 2030 is how little time people actually spend in doctor’s offices and healthcare facilities.
In 2030, the vast majority of patients are at home, supported by a range of different monitoring devices and virtual care channels. New care pathways have emerged and transformed the way care is delivered. And amazing technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) have allowed us to share and fully utilize data so we can deliver targeted care and curated services.
That means fewer visits to healthcare facilities and earlier identification of patient conditions - in other words, patients are happier, healthier and more empowered.
Infrastructure, innovation and information
There were three factors that led to this radical transformation of healthcare as we knew it in 2020. The first was that we started to update the infrastructure to take it out of the organizational level and into a system and regional level. Technology procurement is now based on the needs of population health rather than the needs of a particular service. That unlocked all sorts of new possibilities in the way we captured and shared patient data. And it led to unprecedented interoperability between providers in the healthcare system.
The second factor was our willingness to innovate on top of that patient data. We partnered with a wide range of small-to-medium businesses, start-ups and innovators that were doing very interesting pathway work with new and emerging technologies like AI and NLP. We started to understand, and then predict, where the patient risks may occur. And that allowed us to provide patients with more bespoke and curated care options.
The third catalytic factor was the adoption and integration of digital pathways into the care continuum. The introduction of small-scale, mobile and remote monitoring devices, such as pulse oximeters and home blood pressure monitors, enabled patients to monitor their own vital signs. The data was also immediately shared across their clinical teams who were monitoring the patient remotely. This led to fewer patient visits to the hospital, reduced pressure on the existing hospital workforce, and patients being monitored and, where required (and appropriate), treated in the comfort of their own home.
Combined, these three changes have led to radical transformations across the healthcare sector. Primary care and acute services have been shifted out of clinics and hospitals. Patient data is integrated at a regional level. Healthcare professionals spend their time working with patients, not inputting data and running down results. Resources are free to focus on the most urgent cases. That has led to tremendous improvements in health outcomes across the healthcare system.
And a healthy dose of inspiration
Of course, there have also been challenges to overcome since 2022. Hospital CEOs, for example, had to quickly reassess their operating models and structures as the quantity, channel and type of service demand changed.
A range of new skills were required - for example, new technology skills were needed to manage the infrastructure, new healthcare skills were used to maximize the digital channels and new leadership skills were required to spot changes on the horizon and quickly respond.
Trust in digital service delivery had been a problem until the COVID-19 pandemic. That global experience demonstrated to populations that data could be exchanged digitally and securely without putting patients at risk. In fact, patients were the biggest advocates for the digitization of care pathways and the greater sharing of data across care teams. The number of patients who prefer face-to-face interaction over a digital channel has dropped dramatically. With greater experience has come trust.
Get out of the building
Ultimately, the most notable change of the decade from 2020 to 2030 is that we stopped centering care delivery around buildings and organizations and started centering it around patients, which has unlocked a radically different approach to health and social care. More than anything, patients are happier, healthier and more empowered.