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.
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.
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.
The Royal College of GPs is inviting clinicians and healthcare professionals in primary care to provide insight on how AI will impact them. Together with UCL, the RCGP is in the early stages of piloting an AI tool for educational purposes. However the College has called for help, via a survey and working group, in testing this tool and providing insight into how work in primary care might be impacted by the introduction of AI more widely. The College is forming an online community to test and support artificial intelligence (AI) activities, including the chatbot AI tool for education. Across the UK significant effort is being expended to develop AI for example the Department of Health Northern Ireland is investing in Queens University Belfast to support AI for precision medicine.