Health Technologies

Industry view: what does the health tech landscape look like at present? – htn

What does the health tech landscape look like at present?

Here at HTN, we sought to gain an understanding of the landscape as it stands now, in July 2024, ahead of the upcoming election and any changes that may bring.

We put out a call to comment asking for thoughts and perspectives on a number of key questions: what’s on your mind in the health tech industry at the moment? What are the challenges you are facing, how is the market at the moment, and what needs to change? What should the priorities be in health tech in the next 12 months?

Here’s what people had to say.

Hannah Gibson, director of UK and global partners for Visiba, said: “With a likely change in government on the horizon, there is a clear commitment to accelerate the safe adoption of AI in healthcare across the board. To quote a senior healthcare figure, ‘The impact of AI in the next two years has been overestimated, but the impact of AI in the next five years has been underestimated.’” Between now and 2029, Hannah expects to see “a period of market consolidation, where the hype falls away and the system looks to real examples of meaningful and most importantly, safe, deployment of AI. We are expecting subject matter experts to emerge, and a focus shift away from market-hype and towards evidence-based deployment and scaling. For the health tech industry, this should be a period for organisations with strong clinical and quality foundations to excel.”

From Patchwork Health, senior strategy and ops lead Michelle She reflected that the healthcare system “is under strain due to an ageing population, increased demand for services, and burnout among healthcare workers. Some of the problems we set out to solve with technology are compounding due to other issues and trends. Sometimes it can be difficult to demonstrate the value that tech has brought to solve these issues for organisations that are still struggling with a multitude of concerns, but there is a need for innovative technology solutions that can optimise workforce management, enhance productivity, and improve job satisfaction. Priorities for the next 12 months should include investing in AI-driven scheduling tools, telehealth platforms, and robust data analytics to streamline operations and support overburdened staff.”

Charlotte Ralph-Gledhill (commercial support officer) and Nick Roots (business development manager) of h-trak said that it all comes back to “one word – finance! Feedback from organisations is clear, there’s the will and enthusiasm to proceed but time and time again budgets get slashed and digital sees a big cut. It’s usually a new process, system or hardware, so implementations seem costly and even if the ROI offers huge benefits it’s all about the initial investment. Finances are stretched and, in the face of political uncertainty, who knows what the next spending priority is going to be and where funds are going to be diverted. There’s necessary caution here because of how uncertain things are and it always boils down to budget.”

They continued: “Ideally, there should be more support in terms of proposals that can release this cash and measurably save staff time and improve patient safety, with the long-term focus and gains looked at and support given for projects that have these benefits. The technology is there to drive savings but there needs to be the support to release that initial investment, in order to make countless savings (both cost and time) across the board with various processes.”

Osman Bhatti, GP and chief clinical information officer at North East London ICB, shared his view: “It’s great to see emerging technologies with digital health and the exciting future our patients can be better cared for. But there are challenges, namely clinical safety – quite a few areas have not grasped the concept of clinical safety, the importance of having this recognised and managed and having regular discussions to ensure risks are logged to ensure the best outcome from the use of these emerging technologies.”

“The NHS needs to think bigger and bolder to achieve the productivity and prevention goals its leaders mention so often,” said Grace Gimson, founder and CEO at Holly Health. “There are tens of digital services (for example, companies on the NHS Innovation Accelerator) with significant ROI outcomes in NHS deployment, bringing more than £10 savings for each £1 invested. However, they are not being adopted at ICS or national scale. Leaders must look at what’s working locally and replicate the impact nationally and regionally through new digital investment.”

Without “significant new digital investment into the solutions which are already evidenced to work, and reduce spending, many health tech startups and larger companies will need to leave the UK and NHS for more sustainable markets overseas. This will leave the NHS & UK patients with minimal options to increase productivity and outcomes,” Grace predicted.

Alison Johnson, SVP for UK Health Systems at ORCHA, shared ORCHA’s view that the market is “currently navigating a complex landscape marked by increasing demand for digital health solutions, regulatory hurdles, and the need for greater integration of patient-facing technologies into mainstream healthcare practices.” Regulatory compliance is a challenge, Alison noted, with a need to adhere to frameworks such as UKCA, NICE EVA and NHSE DTAC. Integration and interoperability is another challenge, with a “pressing need for digital health tools to seamlessly integrate with existing healthcare systems”; and building and maintaining trust among users can also be challenging, with ORCHA stating that ensuring data security and privacy is “paramount in fostering this trust”. The final challenge raised by the time was that of scalability and accessibility to make solutions accessible to a broader population.

On necessary changes and priorities for the next 12 months, Alison shared hopes for enhanced adoption of patient-facing digital tools, with a need to encourage healthcare professionals to recommend and utilise tools to alleviate pressures and prevent crises. “The NHS New Hospital Programme is an ideal platform to spearhead this integration, and be a trailblazer for a future blueprint,” she said. Other hopes and priorities from ORCHA include regulatory frameworks and standards; focus on data security and privacy; investment into inoperability; patient and clinician education; and investment in prevention.

A young health tech startup offering an AI/ML decision support product for the acute hospitals sector said that a perennial problem is addressing the NHS market, stating: “It’s confusing, with purchasing power distributed non-uniformly and differently in each trust. Ultimately, it’s a struggling, cash-starved system, which drives risk aversion.”

The startup called the Federated Data Platform a potential “game-changer”, pointing to the example of Apple’s App Store and Google Play marketplaces and stating: “We like to imagine a world where trusts could benefit from a diverse marketplace of tools that safely capitalise on existing data, but (like any good app) they’d pay nothing to test it out and ‘kick the tyres’ a bit! 18 years after Apple launched their tool, we know that what drives in-app purchases is genuine value creation and delight – facilitated by intuitive, human-centred design that doesn’t come with a mandatory week-long training course or a thick manual! The NHS could do with a bit of this!”

Regarding priorities, the startup suggested that focus should lie on lifting the basic IT infrastructure of hospitals; implementing a “multi-pronged push to properly capitalise on the huge NHS England investments in recent years”; and “demanding more from our tech providers and using collective purchasing to simply ban products that don’t meet our strategic objectives”. On this, the startup shared the view that NHSE should create a “UI/UX Gold Standard that all EPRS need to meet within three years, and a mechanism to cancel/curtail their contracts if they don’t meet them”, and ban tech solutions that don’t have interoperability ‘out of the box’.

Dr Rachael Grimaldi, co-founder and CEO at CardMedic, agreed that it is a difficult landscape for young companies: “As a relatively young but scaling company, the barriers to achieving adoption of your innovation are unfortunately significant. Joining frameworks as an early-stage business is critical to helping NHS organisations procure your solution, but the criteria to join such frameworks are usually more challenging than trying to engage in commercial conversations off-framework. By the nature of providing an innovative solution to a current problem, often there is no frame of reference for the innovation. This combined with the burden of proof and compliance thresholds, stifles innovation. Unfortunately, this is why so many innovators are focusing their growth strategies on other health systems, and the private market.”

From University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, chief clinical information officer and deputy chief medical officer Dr Penny Kechagioglou said that the urgency in using digital technology at present lies in “ensuring it aligns with organisational and system priorities. The challenge in deploying digital tech is when it does not fulfil the needs of end users, whether citizens, patients or workforce. Key performance indicators in the form of value-adding outcomes need to be defined before implementing new digital technologies. Evaluation of digital tech implementation needs to start early, during the strategic and design phase. By doing so, outcomes can be measured and shared so that digital tech adoption can be scaled. As a result, more people can benefit from innovative technologies and benefits can spread across organisations and systems.”

Lara Mott, CEO of ImproveWell, said that with new companies appearing constantly in this space, “it’s important to clearly communicate why you are truly innovative and an essential, rather than a ‘nice-to-have’, for increasingly cash-strapped healthcare organisations.” Despite the excitement and focus on innovation, Lara said that it continues to come as a surprise to her that growth is still “so linked to word of mouth recommendations. In addition to the usual procurement processes, we’ve seen that providing fantastic customer service to one healthcare provider can open doors to another. Having more than one route to working with healthcare organisations can be a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity, particularly for companies like ours where personalised service is a key USP.”

ImproveWell’s experience of the market “has been very up and down this year,” she reflected, “with some healthcare budget decisions being delayed because of uncertainty in the wider external environment. Health tech should make showing why they are crucial to getting through these challenging times a priority.”

From Healthtech-1, catalyst Matthew Payne shared the belief that “the UK is the best place to be for health tech companies. Our NHS is a wonderful thing! Care provided for free at the point of need, not based on how much you can afford. And NHS staff deserve technology that actually works for them. Tech that supports them to provide world-class care.”

Matthew continued: “Practices need easier ways to choose the technology they want to use, especially for new technology like automation. The appetite is there! NHS staff are calling out for tech that works and solves the pains they’re facing. But the hoops they have to jump through to find the money to pay for it make it not worth it. More freedom in, or more dedicated, budgets for automation and productivity technology should be a priority to allow NHS staff more choice. This will truly create the thriving health tech market to drive innovation, productivity, and patient outcomes. We encourage the health tech market to design their products with the end user closely woven into their development. NHS staff don’t just need another tool, they need a solution.”

Jonathan Elliott, managing director at Epro, said that for his team being passionate about doing the right thing for the NHS means “helping clinicians and administration staff be as productive as possible using innovative software that has been designed specifically to meet the needs of the NHS. We are acutely aware of the challenges on public finances and are committed to delivery true value for money to the taxpayer as well as industry benchmark system usability for healthcare staff. In the immediate aftermath of the election, we would like to see a renewed focus on clinical efficiency to support waiting time and backlog reductions” as well as “procurements focussed on solutions that can deliver measurable productivity benefits at a low cost, with minimal disruption and in a short time period.”

The future of health tech is “indisputably intertwined with social care,” pointed out Steve Sawyer, managing director at Access HSC (Health Support and Care). “It is vital that we recognise social care as a critical component and an equal partner in delivering person-centred care. While efforts to integrate health and social care services are improving, the transition to a more proactive and preventative approach remains essential.”

He noted that currently there is “significant variation in digital maturity between health and social care sectors” and said: “Innovative solutions should be prioritised to free up time for staff, allowing them to focus on delivering high-quality care. An integrated system across the care continuum can address the challenges of capacity, cost, and complexity by emphasising prevention and ensuring services are delivered at the right place and the right time. Data privacy and protection must also be at the forefront, meeting the highest standards to ensure patient trust and safety. Breaking down the friction between services and care settings will enable providers to realise the full potential of technology. The new government must pivot towards long-term strategies that support integrated, person-centred care rather than short-term funding pockets that fail to deliver sustained impact. By focusing on these priorities, we can pave the way for a more efficient, effective, and sustainable healthcare system.”

From Altera Digital Health UK, executive vice president Rachael Fox noted the increased risk of backlog once the election period is over due to invitations to tender becoming delayed over recent months. “As such, for the remainder of the year it’s likely suppliers will be faced with having to choose which tenders they respond to, reducing the levels of competition for each tender, which may then mean trusts aren’t getting the best solution for their staff and patients.

“That said, the many tender opportunities concerned with the EPR convergence agenda are inspiring greater competition among suppliers as we seek to provide the best possible solutions for the NHS. This has undoubtedly been supported by the frontline digitisation programme funding, but financial pressures do continue and these projects risk being kicked into the long grass. This is especially the case when traditional approaches to technology, especially EPR deployments, exhaust available budgets.”

She continued:  “What is more important now than ever before is making sure the NHS knows there is an alternative approach to buying and procuring an EPR. Within these financially challenging times, trusts must know they can build on top of the systems they have already invested in rather than taking the ‘rip and replace’ approach. It’s an affordable, faster, and safer way to improve digital maturity. The remaining funding available through the frontline digitisation programme should be used to enable all trusts to procure a cost effective EPR in this way, so trusts can keep building on their transformation journey without disrupting patient care and getting a return on investment.”

Kenny Bloxham, managing director at Healthcare Communications, also reflected on the impact of the election. “Like many industries, the election has created a short period of uncertainty, and we’re keen for the new government to be formed,” Kenny said, noting a need to be able to “pivot towards supporting [a new government’s] key priorities for healthcare with digital enablers.” He added that it is “encouraging” to see a digital-first approach for patient engagement feature in political party manifestos.

“Since NHSE has driven patient engagement portals and integration into the NHS App across secondary care, this has kept the market focused. As projects are deployed, and consolidation is achieved the market will start to address what else can be done to further enhance digital patient engagement. Inclusive patient experiences need to be much higher on the agenda. Progress has been made but equitable access is an urgent crisis in the UK. We intend to continue striving forward with further enhancements to our multi-channel approach for communications to help patients overcome daily challenges in accessing healthcare.”

Antoine Lever, commercial director at babblevoice, reflected: “It’s a time of rapid evolution so there’s a lot to consider, but one of the most exciting and promising areas is the integration of AI. We’re thinking a lot about the opportunities AI presents and the profound impact it can have on addressing the growing demand for healthcare services. Realising benefits in a safe and effective way for patients is paramount. Fostering partnerships and ensuring patient trust should also be at the forefront of health tech priorities in the coming year. A strong focus on tech integration, encouraging effective collaboration between the NHS and tech providers is essential.”

Regarding patients, Antoine said that ensuring that there is the right amount of implementation resource at the right time is “crucial”, but the nature of the NHS’s purchasing patterns “complicates this process.” Additionally, with the general election bringing a period of uncertainty, he shared the view that “stability and continuity in terms of organisational structure is needed to help health tech planning and implementation move at pace, ensuring consistent progress in improving healthcare services.”

From Lexacom, managing director Dr Andrew Whiteley said: “Through the use of devices like smart watches, smart scales, and blood pressure monitors, health technology is already helping patients track their health more keenly than ever. This trend is further increasing; respiratory rate, pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation can now all be monitored with a standard digital camera mounted in a ward or room. As these capabilities become integrated with other devices, smart home assistants will soon be reviewing health patterns and offering advice. Health technology is ever reducing the need for face to face consultations, and as the shift towards monitoring health at home continues it could give time-pressed clinical staff increased capacity for complex patient care.”

We heard from Sara Bristow, head of PLMR Healthcomms, as she shared that working alongside a range of partners means that PLMR Healthcomms consultants are “exposed to a number of critical barriers to the regulation, assessment and adoption of health technologies across the NHS. A common theme across our work is the rapid movement from NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care towards cost-cutting measures and policies relating to the adoption and assessment of health tech.” She reflected that “the broader intent of the system, in relation to the adoption of health tech, is concerning – now looking to opt for cost over wider value.

“Health tech has so much to offer the NHS. From sutures and needles, to robots and MRI scanners, the opportunities for service efficiencies clinical outcomes and patient choice are endless. However, there are concerns from across the system that if NHS and government continue to pursue cost-savings over holistic value, these will never be realised.”

Over the next 12 months, Sara hopes that the DHSC, NHSE and its arms-length bodies “shift the dial in how they regulate, assess, adopt and value medical technologies, looking at the policies in process and how they weight cost and value. If the polls are to be believed, the prospects of a new government may present this unique opportunity.”

Fenwick Smith, CEO at Floki Health, commented on the “systemic challenges” facing the vision of a more efficient health service, such as business workflows and improved data sharing, and noted by adopting and adapting proven tech from other sectors such as manufacturing, the NHS can “greatly benefit”.

Fenwick added: “While the NHS is working hard to morph into a more dynamic service-based operation, greater effort needs to be invested in the co-production of integrations and systems interoperability. Connecting ‘physical locational data’ to existing NHS systems—building on previous investments—presents a great opportunity to enhance operational efficiencies. Real-time data can bring equipment, staff, and patients all together, facilitating automation, continually improving services and the efficiency of healthcare being delivered.”

Contributing views from Answer Digital, healthcare sales lead Luke Snelling pointed out that many challenges faced by NHS digital teams can be “boiled down to financial resources and capacity. While providing more money and people is necessary, it’s not sufficient for solving many of the big issues. Take the healthcare AI market as an example. The market and existing funding from the centre have already supported multiple success stories of accelerating the deployment of AI. However, as a result of sometimes unpredictable procurement processes, regulatory ambiguity and a huge diversity in what good looks like for deployment, this often doesn’t happen, and pilot projects are often not set up to successfully scale.

“In recent discussions with NHS leaders, I sense a return of cautious optimism. But if digital transformation is to really fulfil its potential impact on the recovery of the healthcare system, we need to focus on solutions that are tried and tested and ready to deploy right now. This means learning from the pockets of best practice with regards to deploying these solutions and helping them to become widespread – that’s the best way of helping change things at scale. The good news is there is so much willingness for partners to get around the table and make that change happen.”

From Accurx, VP growth Becky Gray said that whilst Accurx is “often met with excitement for our solutions, there is currently not enough change management capacity within the NHS, particularly in acute trusts, to actually deliver the level of digital transformation that is needed. With the new government, we would love to see an increase in the capacity the NHS has to deliver innovative change. This could be in the form of transformation and change teams, as well as investment in training for managers more generally.”

To help drive this, she said, “we also want to see NHS tech budgets protected for those who are trying to drive digital transformation, so they can have certainty that projects will be seen through as they map their strategy. On the supplier side, we need to see simplified procurement routes overall, as well as better routes for innovators and less known solutions to enter new markets. This could be through improving ways for them to be tested, evaluated and verified by those who are involved in digital transformation.”

Rupal Thakarshi, managing consultant at Apira, stated that the healthcare industry “is in the midst of a data revolution. No longer confined to static patient files, we are witnessing transformative changes aimed at supporting more efficient patient care.” Challenges noted in this space include the incomplete implementation of EPRs, with a need to integrate them with digitised legacy patient records; the need to continuously optimise EPRs and EDMS to ensure user experience and maximise benefits; and the current date of data capture and prevention. “While supporting patients through their clinical journey and into recovery is vital, the importance of comprehensive and accurate data capture is often overlooked,” Rupal reflected. “This oversight can lead to missed opportunities in preventive care and early intervention.”

What should the priorities be over the next 12 months? “By focusing on interoperability, comprehensive digitisation, and the innovative use of AI, we can overcome current challenges and pave the way for a more efficient and effective healthcare system,” said Rupal. “The next 12 months will be crucial in setting the foundation for these advancements, ultimately leading to better patient care and outcomes.”

From Rapid Health, CEO Carmelo Insalaco said that the next 12 months should see a “focus on maximising the efficiency of our current healthcare workforce. Simply increasing the number of doctors is not the answer; the priority should be on freeing up doctors’ time from unnecessary tasks and making use of technology to better manage and balance patient demand. Smart technologies can transform and further elevate the modern general practice access model by providing a comprehensive understanding of demand and capacity in primary care. Triage technology can successfully provide the right type of appointment to the right person from the outset, therefore providing the practice with accurate data on the number of appointments needed. Changing the way we manage appointment booking and triage in primary care will also provide a better experience for patients.

“The other challenge is how we streamline and better integrate patient pathways between primary and secondary care to cater for the unique needs of the local population. This integrated approach is crucial for reducing the strain on hospitals, which is partly caused by pressures in primary care. This will be especially important when it comes to services such as mental health provision.”

Insights were shared by Sarah Corbridge, director of Credera, in which she noted that the emphasis for health tech in the UK is “doing the best with the resources that are available, and prioritising use of these resources well. Long term, I hope this crisis passes and we can innovate across the system, but to ignore these short term priorities would be naïve. One example of this is infrastructure. Many health tech solutions that exist require strong foundations in the infrastructure of the organisation, such as staff equipment, connectivity, and particularly data structure for any AI use cases. Without secure staff equipment, or sufficient bandwidth & coverage for hospital-wide clinical use of the internet on the move, or a functional data lake, innovative solutions will struggle to take root. The industry needs to be aware of its dependencies on these and support the system in building these foundations where appropriate while using what already exists in an efficient manner.

“Innovations need to be focused on improving patient outcomes in a partnered and efficient way that does not require the system to change overnight. To think you can change overnight is, impossible, naïve, and some cases dangerous due to the layers and layers… and layers… of existing systems and workload that the frontline and clinical staff are facing. Integration with these systems is both difficult and critical for patient safety, and therefore interoperability between systems should be a priority for the health tech community in the next 12 months.”

We heard from Jim McNair, business development director at Lenus Health, as he shared his views on “two major trends” on his mind: “Firstly, the amount of data generated from devices and wearables outside of traditional hospital settings, and secondly, the growing use of machine learning to make sense of these data streams to allow provide actionable insights to clinical teams.”

On challenges, Jim noted that there is “significant fragmentation of data across different care settings” and whilst a number of programmes are “attempting to address these challenges, data access remains a big hurdle to growth and improved care.”

As ICBs move from set-up to operational phases, “new programmes and initiatives to address their key challenges will develop. However these need to address cross setting activities to build a truly integrated care approach. There is still a view that one thing is a primary care problem and another is secondary care. They should realise this is a continuum and services need to be integrated to be successful.”

As for what priorities should be in this space, Jim shared hopes for a “focus on transforming care models to be more proactive and preventative rather than reactive and high-cost. This should combine population management and direct intervention approaches that leverage patient-generated health data and predictive AI to provide better insights into patient risk and optimise care interventions. Initiatives such as virtual wards should evolve to focus more on admission avoidance ahead of an acute event, rather than early discharge. This requires a shift towards a longer timeframe for delivery across settings.”

Speaking from System C, CEO Nick Wilson commented: “To drive the real positive and fast change needed from digital in health over the next 12 months demands a laser focus on building upon the systems ICSs and trusts already have. Making sound financial decisions means trusts will have to build on their successful existing investments and demonstrate rapid ROI. With the pressure on the workforce, implementing new systems can no longer mean we go backwards for two years while things ‘bed in’. We also need to ensure that the NHS and public sector prioritise the amazing innovation and talent in UK tech by buying British as a priority.

“We would like to see the next government place more emphasis on connecting care with existing systems to avoid substantial delays and the huge disruption regularly associated with implementing new and unproven solutions across care settings. Recently we’ve seen many examples where organisations will never come close to delivering on the eye watering benefits promised to make the business case stack up, so speed and long-term accountability are critical.”

From Iron Mountain, head of public sector Simon McNair commented: “The digitalisation of pathology is an important step towards a sustainable healthcare system. It has the potential to relieve the burden on specialist staff and improve the patient experience. Digital pathology enables the rapid acquisition, storage, analysis and distribution of tissue and cell samples. transport to get them from various archives. Resulting in a process that previously took weeks shortened to hours with digital pathology.”

Simon added: “Hospitals and organisations do not need a comprehensive IT infrastructure for digital pathology: high-resolution scans can be stored anonymously, legally compliant, and easily accessible in cloud solutions or databases by an experienced partner. As the healthcare industry looks to the next 12 months, digital processes and solutions can be key to improving the efficiency of diagnostics, treatment decisions and the patient experience. It also opens the door for future innovations in medical diagnostics through artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

Mike Egerton, chief marketing officer for Liaison Group, offered the perspective that the healthcare financial landscape “is one of huge challenge, with deficits growing and continuous cost pressures. Organisations are faced with staffing issues due to high levels of absence and turnover, which are compounded with challenges in retaining and attracting staffing, many of whom are now looking for more flexible ways of working. This is leading trusts to use agency staffing to plug clinical gaps, resulting in agency usage being the largest contributor to over-expenditure in workforce costs. Relating to this, we regularly see the challenge for organisations of procuring healthcare technology based on price rather than quality, leading to additional issues such as not receiving end-to-end support to enable the delivery of the technology solutions to ensure their success. Effective technology usage is reliant on implementation and change management across an organisation, and we believe that this should be a standard part of the service and not an add-on, to ensure that any procurement is successfully implemented.”

Sharing views from Magentus EMEA, managing director Maddy Phipps-Taylor said that regardless of uncertainty around the general election, there are “undeniable facts about the demand for healthcare steadily rising, the workforce shortage, and the modest increases in funding. Despite tight digital budgets, tech remains one of the levers for meaningful change to create a sustainable modern health service. Across the market we are seeing greater collaboration and integration. This trend has been steadily growing and now regional imaging network procurements are starting to drive forward the tech agenda. This is helping to match supply and demand across a region, and offer greater flexibility and choice to patients where that is possible. Region and national initiatives are key, and complementary in many ways, to progressing forward this ideological shift in tech strategies.”

Cyber security concerns are “ever present,” Maddy continued, “and the recent high-profile attacks should be a catalyst for further change. Collaboration and exchange between hospital and health system infrastructure providers and health tech providers remains key to mitigate risks and respond appropriately (and very fast!) should something occur.”

She also reflected that the promise of AI is a “shining frontier” in health tech. “How we safely embed AI into routine processes around a patient’s journey, and use it to help clinicians and administrators to deliver better, and also frankly more care, is key. Discussion around the AI-human interface, impact on workloads and working practices, the ethics of AI failures and who is accountable, are all thoughtful discussions happening across the ecosystem today. This cuts across many domains and should bring together voices representing patients, health professionals, ethicists, tech developers, and data scientists. Giving space to this work should be a priority to ensure safe, viable, sustainable and empowering use cases are taken forward, and the other concepts are ‘fast failed’.”

Dr Shubs Upadhyay, director of medical quality at Ada Health, noted that he has been thinking about how AI can be used to bridge the gaps in the healthcare system whilst ensuring credible, clinically-validated outputs, and also considering the need to prioritise trust, value, and long-term partnerships across the industry.

There is a lot of potential around how AI can contribute to the healthcare industry, Shubs acknowledged. “But with every new and promising technology, come new and complicated challenges. AI tech, as incredible as it is, cannot think for itself. The AI is only as good as its training and development, which is why we need to ensure that a credible human source is building and validating an AI’s outputs. Having medical doctors code and validate any suggested treatments, diagnoses, or advice given to users is vital to ensuring that these healthcare tools are reliable and valuable, rather than unreliable and dangerous. Not every health AI system makes sure of this, but in order to provide trusted services I believe they must.

“Apart from the tech itself, the promise of AI has also changed the landscape of the health tech industry, leading to a more crowded market. This brings up the challenge of identifying who in this growing space is a trusted and long-term player. It’s really important to think about how digital tools create value and return on investment for patients, clinicians, health systems, and partners. I’ve seen the industry hyper-fixate on company savings and revenue and am worried we’re losing sight of the bigger picture. At the end of the day, health tech goes hand-in-hand with health care and is about the people we’re trying to help.”

Shubs concluded: “It’s important to remember that it takes time and investment to sustainably create an effective and valuable health tool. With AI entering the health tech arena, more regulations for the technology are starting to show up. Considering which companies have robust quality management systems and lean into these new regulatory requirements is one way to identify a trustworthy player. Instead of hyper-focusing on financial ROIs, we should lend some attention to identifying value actors in the space – those who are committed to real digital transformation that will improve patient outcomes, streamline clinician workloads, upgrade outdated health systems and close other gaps still un-mended across the industry.”



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