Technology in Healthcare, are we making progress?
It seems an obvious statement that Technology in Healthcare is a good thing, and there are genuinely some amazing innovations that have made real difference to people’s lives, consider the improved quality of life an artificial pacemaker can offer or the difference that the simple hearing aid has made to millions of lives.
When it comes to innovation in Healthcare Technology it often comes from indirect applications. Take for example the Xbox Kinect, a brilliant piece of technology allowing a game player to interact with a game using body movements, no controller or physical touch is involved. Not long after its launch Microsoft Research and surgical staff at St Thomas Hospital in London began trialing its use in theater as it allowed them to quickly view 3D images without any form of contact, keeping the environment sterile.
Technology for gaming is now being adopted in situations where life and death are quite literally at play. Google’s Glass has also found its way in to the surgical theater and trials are underway to consider its use. Recently a Doctor in Madrid used Google Glass to stream a live surgical procedure to Doctors located at 300 Universities and Hospitals in five continents.
So you would imagine that we are seeing cutting edge technology being rapidly adopted across the healthcare spectrum. Sadly though, we also see areas where Technology appears to be ‘dragging its feet’ so to speak. The ‘TeleMedicine’ approach and mobile monitoring of patient stats has been on the go for many years, and where we should be seeing this as a field of mature technology that has reduced costs, as well as re-admissions, it is really still in its infancy and lacks broader adoption with many projects still in the ‘pilot’ stages.
On a positive note, at a recent event I attended, organisations like Johnson and Johnson are taking a direct approach to Innovation with their aptly named ‘J&J Innovation Centers’. Located in California, Boston, London and Shanghai these centers allow a partnership approach for those with new and exciting ideas to share and be supported by those with a background and experience that can genuinely help drive the idea forward. A key principle behind this initiative is to accelerate the time is takes for an idea to become reality. The centers will focus on innovations in Pharmaceutical, Consumer Products and Medical Devices & Diagnostics. It will be interesting to see what new Innovations we will see hopefully sooner rather than later.
Like a car with no fuel though innovation on its own is really of no use if it does not have the support and direction to quickly and efficiently become a reality that will ultimately benefit the lives of people.
Gareth Baxendale FBCS CITP
Head of Technology NIHR Clinical Research Network.
Vice Chair BCS Health and Care Executive