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Charting the progress of healthcare technology in the NHS

Digital technology has the potential to revolutionise both the way the healthcare system runs, and how patients interact with it. With that in mind we’ve looked at some of the key events in the history of healthcare technology in the NHS including what’s been tried and what’s happening right now to see what impact this might hold for future developments.

IT development has had a mixed history in the NHS. The complexity of the organisation, combined with the way it is funded and the sensitivity of the work it does means initiatives to upgrade IT systems have often proved difficult to implement successfully and have generated a lot of coverage when unsuccessful.

The road to digitisation in the NHS is a long, complex multi-stage process. We’re not at the very beginning of that journey – much progress has already been made – but there is still a long way to go.

For example, back-office processes are being made more efficient through the implementation of outsourcing agreements such as managed print services and clinicians are increasingly making use of online conferencing facilities to speed up the process of information sharing and management across the organisation.

On the patient-facing side, we are beginning to see smartphone technology play an increasing role in improving people’s interaction with the service, and this is a promising area.

While it has been a difficult evolution, it seems clear that we are gradually moving towards a data-driven NHS that will allow a personal service to be delivered economically on a large scale.