The factors negatively influencing healthcare are many but have been exacerbated by rises in life expectancy, and a growing complex aging population with multiple morbidities. Money is unlikely to be the solution to the ever-growing strain on healthcare exemplified by the NHS where the annual spend has increased every year since its inception 70 years ago. Instead suggestions have been made that we must find better ways to manage the current budget and indeed save while improving quality of care. To do this will not only require a radical change in the way in which healthcare is delivered but also in the way that healthcare professionals think in terms of embracing change and in the way, healthcare is administered. This can only be realised through co-production between academic researchers in the biomedical and data science space, healthcare professionals, policy makers and notably patients.
We find ourselves at a critical point in the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare. While we can take it for granted that the rate of technological innovation will continue to accelerate, what is less clear is how quickly we can adapt healthcare to make use of these advances. This is partly a very human problem. For example, many of the healthcare professionals (HCPs) I speak with welcome the potential benefits cloud computing can bring such as better data storage, processing power and increasingly sophisticated algorithms that can help diagnose diseases. However, they also hold genuine concerns that the regulatory environment particularly information governance will continue to lag behind AI development.
Healthcare continues to be a field that comes with a lot of pressure attached, and specialists working in that area have to constantly battle the problems that arise from that. And there doesn't seem to be any solution on the horizon – the job is simply highly demanding, and nothing is likely to change that anytime soon. However, we have seen the rise of various systems designed to assist the work of healthcare professionals, and simplify it in different ways. To that end, we're already seeing some great progress – and it's very likely that this is going to continue in the future as well. Artificial intelligence has made the lives of healthcare professionals easier in different ways, and we seem to be barely scratching the surface of what it can do in this regard.
Maya Ward, associate director, Gresham House Ventures, writes about how the pandemic means that a hybrid healthcare model is readily achievable. While the heroic abilities of the NHS have been on display throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the last year has also exposed the longstanding limitations and frailties of our underfunded healthcare system. With an estimated 100,000 unfilled posts and staff turnover expected to increase due to emotional exhaustion, the health service's workforce stands to be further stretched by an ageing population. By 2030, one in five people in the UK will be aged 65 or over – individually costing the NHS 2.5 times more than the average 30-year-old. However, a wave of private investment is flowing into the sector.