Comment: Technology 'the key' to the next 70 years of the NHS

By Richard Bennett, head of accelerate and advisory services at VMware

Richard Bennett, head of accelerate and advisory services at VMware

Already, the 70th year of the NHS is not without controversy.

As Theresa May commits more money to help the NHS; it raises questions around what it needs to do to stay relevant for the next 70 years.

The answer lies in where and how it chooses to invest in technology.

Technology is starting to help us explore new realms of medical care. But, most importantly, itís helping us to be innovative within the immensely-tight budget restrictions that the NHS is under.

Appropriate technology allows the NHS to be creative and think outside the box, investing in the patient journey and delivering a greater range of palliative care.

Technology is starting to help us explore new realms of medical care. But, most importantly, itís helping us to be innovative within the immensely-tight budget restrictions that the NHS is under

Fujifilm, for example, should have gone under when people stopped buying film in the wake of camera phones. Instead, it saw an opportunity to use its knowledge of film and to redevelop a collagen-based product, which now produces skin grafts capable of exact tone and colour-matching for the human body.

Technology is also giving people life choices they wouldnít normally have had.

Take the increasing number of people living with dementia or Alzheimerís as an example.

To avoid accelerating their condition, they need to remain somewhere familiar. Keeping them at home for as long as possible is vital, and increasingly possible.

The innovation from software businesses in the UK is critical. Imagine the ability to augment a dementia patientís home with technology to enable them to stay living there for longer by creating familiarity through wearables simply aimed at family information, or monitoring behaviour through big data analytics.

This hyper-connectivity with primary carers is key, but critically it augments the patientsí cognitive skills, making home care feasible, for longer.

Technology and innovation is driving the opportunity for us to change how people live their lives for the better. That is the role that the NHS must play over the next 70 years.

Cloud-based technologies are at the heart of making this a reality.

Creating a digital patient journey is easy, and technologies marginalise the cost of that innovation. There are opportunities for the NHS to use the cloud to full effect and deliver applications into the hands of doctors, nurses, clinical practitioners and even social workers on demand, anywhere, anytime.

The NHS is a beloved and indispensable institution and it has survived some hugely-tough times.

The NHS has the chance to put itself at the heart of our increasingly digitally-lead society if it embraces the technology at its disposal

It represents an ideology and, arguably, is the best public healthcare system in the world. It has done that through constant change, but it is the next 70 years where technology evolution will be critical.

The NHS has the chance to put itself at the heart of our increasingly digitally-lead society if it embraces the technology at its disposal.

And technology is nothing until we place the human being at the core of it, something the NHS does every day, for everyone in the UK.

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