Digital Health: In conversation
By World Healthcare Journal-
Digital health is an enormously broad church. Depending on who you talk to, even the term itself has wildly varying definitions, which is an interesting phenomenon for an industry which is becoming so crucial to the global health market.
To discuss some of the hot topics within digital health, WHJ’s Steve Gardner met with Clyde & Co’s Claire Petts and Simon Gamblin to discuss the benefits, problems, and opportunities that the digital health sector has to offer.
Steve: What do you think the current major areas of digital health are?
Claire: People predominantly talk about the frontend technologies that patients can use, or that doctors can use to help patients, rather than back-end developments.
Simon: For me, it’s clear that the digitisation of facilitating health care for individuals through phones or the internet, etc, is to make the system easier, simpler, and quicker to use. The other part is a more interchangeable definition of a broader sector, encompassing a large number of different technologies.
Steve: So, what do you think the UK capability looks like in digital health?
Claire: We’re one of the leaders, especially through Oxford, Cambridge and the technology belt in Reading where the UK is developing some of the best new innovations that the world has seen so far.
Simon: I agree. From our perspective on the corporate and commercial side, there are many early-stage businesses coming out of our universities across the UK. There is absolutely no shortage of brilliant ideas and applications in this space. But the trick is, as ever with UK plc, securing the wider international rollout. And when you look at China’s plan for 2030 digitisation, it dwarfs anything that - despite the best intentions - the NHS can achieve at the moment.
Steve: From that perspective, are there any particularly good examples of innovative health tech solutions that you’ve seen in the last year or two?
Simon: The use of intelligent bedside diagnosis systems that remove the human element, analyse critical indicators, and accrue data in real-time is fantastic. It’s amazing that your hospital bed could potentially detect the early stages of a heart attack, a hypertensive crisis, a stroke. It’s these sorts of things that we’re seeing in start-up tech that are really exciting.
Claire: And that’s just one. We’re seeing various AI systems across all sorts of tech practice – for instance, Moorfields Eye Hospital’s new AI patient scans were featured on the BBC News recently - if you examine patients with just the naked eye, there’s a higher failure to detect rate than doctors would like in eyecare. But now with AI and new technology, the failure to detect rate is negligible.
Steve: What’s the environment like in the UK for getting funding for these opportunities? Are there investors out there? Is that something that you can help with?
Simon: We’re seeing particularly Asian and Chinese firms looking to invest exactly into this space. Things are changing and we’re seeing some quite interesting investment on the Chinese side. There’s certainly money around to match the opportunities, and this will only become more evident with the relative clarity of the UK political position after the election.
Claire Petts, Global Head of Healthcare
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