Digital technology has shown great promise in transforming the way we deliver healthcare.
As a relatively new development in health, it has already created an abundance of opportunities for people and health systems alike, from better data sharing and analysis to reducing costs, and managing the care of patients and illnesses. Yet there are risks that come with the use of digital technology, particularly in terms of safety and security, which need to be considered and managed with an adaptable approach.
In this rapidly emerging and evolving field, we’ve continued to expand our work on digital health, focusing on areas such as the use of electronic health records and healthcare data to improve care quality and safety.
We aim to use our expertise in digital health to both analyse and impact current and future policies while also creating promising solutions. In a field that has historically been slow to adopt new technologies, we want to promote an openness to digital innovations while ensuring robust research, policy frameworks and high-quality evidence have been considered before implementation.
We have a multi-disciplinary team which includes researchers, policy-makers, industry, patients and clinicians working on a range of projects. Through this expertise, we’re ideally placed at the intersection of policy, research and practice.
Find out some of the ways we’re influencing the digital health sphere.
Digital project examples
Cyber security in healthcare
The number and severity of cyber-attacks against healthcare systems and hospitals has increased significantly, compromising the health information of millions of people. This is only expected to increase in the future due to our reliance on technology in healthcare.
We are proud to be one the first centres globally to be focusing on cyber security in health care. Our team of experts is working closely with organisations such as the Department of Health, the National Cybersecurity Centre, as well as commercial companies and academics to influence practice on effective cyber security.
In 2019 we published an in-depth impact analysis of the May 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack on the NHS, highlighting how cyber-attacks must be considered a patient safety issue and not just an IT issue.
Generating evidence for digital
Currently, there is no universally accepted way to demonstrate the effectiveness of digital health solutions, which remains a barrier to the uptake of innovation. At IGHI, we are pioneering the use of novel approaches to generate evidence for digital solutions developed by tech start-ups, pharmaceutical companies and large tech companies.
We want to highlight new ways of generating evidence that will benefit patients, clinicians, and industry, ensuring we have the best evidence available when promoting the spread of good practise across the NHS.
Recent solutions that we have evaluated include:
- An artificial intelligence (AI) system for breast cancer screening;
- Clinical decision support tools for use in cancer care;
- A remote care service for people living with type 2 diabetes
- AI-powered risk-prediction tools for reducing the health burden of diabetes.
Safeguarding our health systems
At the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) conference in 2020, we launched our new report, ‘Safeguarding our healthcare systems: A global framework for cybersecurity’.
This report identifies key insights in the international healthcare cybersecurity landscape and proposes a global cybersecurity readiness framework for healthcare organisations, which aims to help improve cyber resilience and protect patient safety.
Read the report here.
Digital solutions in health
Historically, the healthcare sector has been slow to implement digital technology. But since the COVID-19 pandemic, digital and data solutions have been deployed at a fast pace to deliver healthcare services out of necessity.
This rapid deployment has meant we lack an understanding of how effective digital technology has been in the healthcare setting and what future use of these solutions may look like.
To broaden our understanding of this and the impact it has had on citizens and practitioners around the globe, our team carried out a survey run by YouGov, gathering data from Australia, Italy, India, UAE, UK and US.
The report commissioned by EY found that the rise in technology in healthcare has improved the quality and delivery of care.
Read the report, ‘Embracing digital: is COVID-19 the catalyst for lasting change?’ here.
Digital tech in primary care
The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly changed the way primary care is delivered.
GP appointments have moved from face-to-face to video or telephone consultations.
In response to this change, our international survey, called inSIGHT, is evaluating GPs’ use of digital technologies during the pandemic. We’ve partnered with more than 30 organisations worldwide for this study.
By inviting GPs to give their opinions on the shift to digital technology, we hope to identify the key lessons to be learned to inform the future of primary care. So far we’ve had over 1,600 responses from GPs and family doctors from 18 different countries to our survey.
Find out more about inSIGHT here.
Find out how our work is making a positive difference in digital healthcare.
Harnessing the UK’s health data to improve care
While the UK is well placed to use its health data to benefit the population, the government, charities, academia and industry are working without a unified strategy. Our White Paper, ‘NHS data: Maximising its impact on the health and wealth of the United Kingdom’, proposes a single framework to guide the proper use of the UK’s health data assets.
Published in February 2020, the paper is informed by a series of interviews and a half-day workshop with representatives from these sectors. It emphasises the goal of any health data strategy must be to deliver benefits to people in the UK and specifically to the NHS.
Download the report here.
Evaluating digital health solutions
Digital health solutions have much potential to positively transform health and care. However for progress in the sector, these technologies must be evaluated in a timely, cost-effective and robust way.
Our paper, ‘Challenges for the evaluation of digital health solutions—A call for innovative evidence generation approaches’, takes a look at current evaluation strategies and assesses the challenges faced by stakeholders. Published in Nature last year, it calls for new ways to facilitate the safe and responsible growth of the digital health sector.
Read the paper here.
Improving cyber security in the NHS
In July 2019, we published a White Paper titled, “Improving Cyber Security in the NHS,” outlining the risks and threats to the NHS in the event of a cyber-attack.
This report, which was presented at the House of Lords, made key recommendations for cyber security best practice to address vulnerabilities in health systems.
Download our report: Improving Cyber Security in the NHS White Paper 2020 PDF