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.
Evidence for digital tools
Currently, there is no universally accepted method to demonstrate the effectiveness of digital tools in healthcare. This remains a barrier to the uptake of new innovations. We’re therefore working with commercial companies such as Roche to trial their digital products in a simulated setting as a critical step to proving their potential.
We want to highlight new ways of accomplishing evidence that will benefit patients, clinicians and industry to ensure we have the best evidence available when promoting the spread of good practice across the NHS.
Find out how our work is making a positive difference in digital healthcare.
Harnessing data science and AI in healthcare
At the WISH conference in 2018, we launched our report on: “Harnessing Data Science and AI in Healthcare."
The document highlights an overarching strategy that policymakers can use globally to maximise the potential of the data assets that health systems hold, to support their use and shape the future of healthcare delivery.
Ensuring better quality in AI technologies
We’ve been working with DeepMind and Google Health on the design and use of new AI technologies in healthcare, such as research we’re doing with the Cancer Research UK Imperial Centre to find out whether AI could improve breast screening and lead to greater diagnostic accuracy.
We also helped develop Streams, a digital alerting and decision support smartphone app that’s currently being trialled in a number of NHS hospitals. In these partnerships, we’ve also been focusing on developing the standards for digital and AI evidence reporting.
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.