Medicine and Health Panel – 21 June 2022

It was the longest day of 2022, and the quarterly speaker panel event was very fortunate to hear from Patrick Mitchell, the Director of Innovation, Digital and Transformation of Health Education England.  Patrick provided an update of the progress being made by the NHS arising from the TOPOL review in 2019 with regard to the recommendations on preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future.

Dr Eric Topol was commissioned in 2019 by the then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, to set some thinking on how to deploy digital healthcare technologies throughout the NHS. At the recent Panel event, Patrick shared with us the agreed principles which included:

  • Patients included as partners and informed about health technologies
  • Evidence: the healthcare workforce needs expertise and guidance to evaluate new technologies, on the basis of real-world evidence of clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness
  • The gift of time: wherever possible the adoption of new technologies should enable staff to gain more time to care

There were four themes identified: Genomics, Artificial Intelligence & Robotics, Digital Medicine and Organisational Development.

Patrick went on to share with us some of the huge challenges facing the NHS who employ 1.4million staff with 180,000 students currently in the process of qualifying.  The change required to make the patient more centric has been nicely summed up in a book written by Dr Eric Topol entitled “the Patient will see you now”, however there is much work to be done to move away from the current “paternal” clinician to patient relationship. As with any major change, the biggest hurdle is adoption and the change management process with people, “we are not robots” says Chairman Paul Finch.

One of the big game changers has been in e-learning, which in pre-lockdown were at 500,000 sessions / month, are now running at 200,000 sessions / day.

When asked about how the WCIT Medicine and Health Panel could assist, Patrick cited that any collaboration we can foster between different NHS trusts to help adopt good practice and share innovative ideas would be very welcome. Other ideas include providing assistance on how to bridge the gap with business when competing for the scare resources for skill sectors like Artificial Intelligence and Data Scientists. The Panel is looking to stir up a debate on this worthwhile subject.

The event was a huge success, in spite of being moved to virtual one owing to the rail strike, our thanks go to Patrick Mitchell for a very entertaining and inspirational talk.

The Panel has three streams running:

  1. A monthly forum to discuss current topical issues and how WCIT could make an impact
  2. Quarterly speaker events with networking sharing news and areas of development, perhaps show casing examples of innovative developments and their impact
  3. A working group looking at how we can bring our technical expertise to the benefit of Hospital Trusts