WCIT Medicine & Health Panel Event

Virtual Health and Care: For Better or for Worse?

Attendees for the “Virtual Health and Care” event were treated to an entertaining and informative presentation outlining the history, challenges, potential benefits and future possibilities of telemedicine.

Although telemedicine has been going for some time recent advances in technology and AI plus the recent Covid related restriction have brought this topic very much into the forefront of the news. It was nice to see a full turnout and a good representation across the company including the current Master, Rob Wirszycz.

We were most fortunate to have Dr Hatim Abdulhussein present this who had unique insights based of his experience in not only driving forward many of the NHS digital & AI initiatives, but who is also a practicing GP.

After a formal introduction from Paul Finch and the Master, Hatim provided several examples of early challenges of digital tools creating message overload on the wards. He highlighted some of the early experiences with video conferencing tools not only for patients but also as a collaboration tool amongst clinicians

Some of the insights were unexpected. He gave the example of being able to learn something additional about patients’ home lives and the benefits of avoiding disease spreading in waiting rooms. Also pointed out that although there were many valid concerns about digital accessibility (and bandwidth constraints) many patients have real constraints on travel and distance to consultations.

It was good to see some real progress made. The recently announced Artificial Intelligence(AI) and Digital Healthcare Technologies Capability framework was also highlighted, evidencing some of the hard work needed to provide consistency across such a large organisation of many parts. Hatim gave the example of different rules on GPs ordering MRI scans within a short distance to highlight the differences across different NHS Trusts

Many of the challenges do not relate to technology capabilities. A bigger challenge is the training and education of the workforce and the need to include new digital technology on the syllabus of medical schools.

During the Q&A session some good examples were provided in the use of intelligent bots to route patients to the correct specialists and services. All in all the attendees came away feeling a lot of progress was being made in a highly challenging environment and ad plenty to discuss during the network session which followed.