In the second part of our Health Tech Predictions for 2020 series, we asked the HTN community for their predictions for the health tech landscape in 2020, what will be big in the year and what will be some of the challenges.
You can read Part One of the series here, or Part Two below.
Contributors include: AccuRx, Healthcare Communications, ANCILE Solutions, X-on, Ingenica Solutions, Inhealthcare, Medicalchain, Spirit Health Group, Servelec, Imprivata, InfoFlex, Identity Automation, Assura, Difrent, IG Smart, Issa Group and OLM.
Jacob Haddad, CEO & Co-Founder, AccuRx
In terms of the products, people are getting a bit bored of AI hype. I think in 2020 we’ll see more people going after ‘unsexy’ problems like booking/scheduling, communication and task management. Rather than completely patient-focused solutions, we’ll start to see more built for frontline staff. Currently most procurement decisions are made by management teams, but healthcare is going to start going the way of other sectors, where end users get to decide what systems and features are best for them.
In terms of interoperability, I think the government will hopefully see that simply setting standards isn’t going to achieve the desired outcome, and risks just leading to box-ticking.
And in terms of disruption, I think digital-first providers and the new GP contract will force GP practices to massively increase digital accessibility, rather than the current ‘phone-first’ model. We’ve seen the current online consultation products struggle to take off with patients, but there’s got to be something that works at scale.
Kenny Bloxham, Managing Director, Healthcare Communications
In 2020 RCS will spearhead the next generation of mobile messaging in health. With the reach of SMS, RCS will deliver app liked experiences to patients smartphones delivering much richer content than traditional SMS. Interactivity will be pivotal, allowing for automated appointment booking, patient experience surveys, delivery of advice and guidance videos, hospital maps and where bots can be added digital triage.
We would like to see more emphasis on digital technology delivering evidence based return on investments. We see a lot of solutions but they seem to lack evidence based results. NHSX need to ensure alongside mandatory interoperability and data standards organisations are made to evidence their benefits.
Marc Warburton, Chief Executive, InfoFlex
Implementing IT solutions that go beyond the traditional departmental and organisational boundaries is the main challenge for 2020. Allowing clinical data to be shared by clinicians across the healthcare community as well as by patients is key to initiatives such as the Living With and Beyond Cancer project. The ability to provide a single solution that brings together the different needs of patients and clinicians and which supports shared care is essential if better use of scarce healthcare resources is to be realised. With many InfoFlex projects currently underway to support this need for shared care across a wide range of clinical areas, 2020 will begin to see a move away from the clinical data silos that only support part of the care processes.
The key challenge to make integrated care a reality is to move away from the perception that clinical systems are there to meet individual clinical departmental needs. Clinical systems need to be implemented from the perspective of the patient care pathway, which is not limited to a single specialty or organisational boundary.
Andy Wilcox, Senior Product Manager, Imprivata
In 2020 we see digital transformation continuing to be the dominant trend where NHS Trusts are harnessing technology to meet the need for increasingly complex patient care requirements, particularly in light of the recent announcement about the new ‘digital aspirant’ programme which will build on the Global Digital Exemplar programme.
In order to deliver a more efficient service with correspondingly better patient outcomes, Trusts will be focusing on greater interoperability between the systems that will support (rather than dictate) the clinical workflows required to deliver multi-disciplinary care. This includes greater use of mobile devices and use of cloud based solutions to provide care at any location including out in the community. End-to-end workforce management is also a key to ensuring that the right staff, whether full-time, part-time or agency, with the right qualifications, are in the right place at the right time, with appropriate access to the systems and records they need to deliver care.
The challenges in 2020 will be encouraging widespread adoption of new digital solutions, and ensuring access for a fluctuating workforce. Brexit could impact numbers of staff available and therefore the delivery of care, making efficient workforce management even more important. Also, the ongoing quest to harness the potential of artificial intelligence (AI), and to find the right use cases.
Johnathan Pascall, EMEA Sales Director, ANCILE Solutions
The health service is going to need to pick up the pace on transformation and integration if it is going to deliver on the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan that came out a year ago. There are signs that it is starting to do that, and that it is recognising the importance of healthcare IT. For example, we are seeing a big increase in the number of digital transformation roles being created and advertised. However, funding is going to remain tight and the NHS has significant demand and staffing challenges to deal with in the short to medium term. That means trusts are going to need to be confident that they can deploy IT systems without significant disruption and get staff to adopt and use them optimally.
In 2020, we expect to work with NHS organisations that want to engage and even excite their staff about new technology, supplement traditional class-room training with guides, tips and tricks, and generally give staff the kind of at-work support that will maximise return on investment in technology. Improvements in usability, tangible support for staff that have issues with digital literacy, and a recognition that systems need to support clinicians, rather than vice-versa, will all be essential if the NHS is going to make the most of the health IT investment it is making. I’m optimistic that in 2020 we will see trusts willing to find new ways of doing these things, so technology can play its full part in that transformation agenda.
Michael Abtar, CEO, IG Smart
In 2020, we are likely to see:
- An increase in home-based care and self-care that will be enabled by internet-connected devices and broader 5G coverage, and driven by a desire to keep people out of acute and primary care settings, in the interests of saving money.
- Breakthroughs and data breaches, emanating from the artificial intelligence and machine learning space – with the risks of identification (owing to joined-up big data sets, and an increasing lack of anonymity in the digital age) and discrimination (resulting from biased algorithms) playing key roles.
- People choosing to exercise their right to opt-out of having their healthcare information shared outside of their direct care team (as part of the incoming NHS national opt-out), and organisations not being prepared to respond to the incoming changes.
- Renewed attempts to join up health and social care systems at national, regional and sub-regional levels for both direct and secondary care purposes (notably in the research, genomics, and medicine management spaces).
- At least one major healthcare or technology organisation being challenged by the public, press (and possibly parliament) over a lack of transparency relating to patient data processing activities.
- At least one significant cyber-attack that will test whether healthcare organisations have learned the right lessons since the last one.
- Major post-Brexit partnership deals being struck between US-based tech firms and the NHS.
Chris King, Delivery Lead, Difrent
From a strategic perspective, I believe we will see an uptake in NHS Trusts engaging with Value Chain (Wardley) Mapping, to enable them to work out which of their creaking, and out of date platforms and tools they need to focus on first. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Blockchain are already starting to be commoditized. They may still be years down the road for most Healthcare bodies, but could, in 2020, sit in a more tangible (accessible?) way as those value chain maps are created. The next step will be to find the right partners to work with, in order to get their needs and ideas approved without fear of compromise.
Paul Bensley, Managing Director, X-on
When demand exceeds capacity, one of the crucial areas of general practice that becomes an immediate pressure point is patient communication. The technology that can help surgeries resolve this is already there through online, telephone and video solutions. However, implementation is fragmented because of a lack of an overall and cohesive strategy, multiple vendors and confused funding models.
The challenge for 2020 will be improving the strategic direction, supported by clear interworking specifications and funding streams. Techniques that are already working successfully in industry contact centres can be applied to healthcare. In turn, best practice guidelines, KPIs and at scale working will help better harness digital tools to address rising demand. It will be the application and rollout of existing technology, overseen by strong management, that will be more important to outcomes than applying the latest invention.
Nicola Hall, Founder and COO, Ingenica Solutions
The landscape for 2020 to a degree was always dependant on the outcome of the election and also Brexit. Now we have the results I can see that there will be momentum on the NHS Digitisation plans and increased funding for the NHS. We hope that this will mean that some of the projects held back due to restricted funds will move forward in the new financial year.
We are already seeing multiple NHS trusts coming together to select systems at a multi-trust level and we believe this trend will continue, we foresee great benefits in and more efficiencies in trusts working together although it is still early days on this track.
The big unknown at this stage is whether the Future Operating Model for Procurement and NHSSC will be successful, there are many voices of concern that as yet the new model is not producing the savings hoped for.
Bryn Sage, Chief Executive, Inhealthcare
We think health tech can help bridge the gap between health and social care in 2020. The linking of home monitoring technologies with new wireless networks can transform the health and care system for the benefit of people, providers and the public purse. We call it the citizen-centred approach. It enables the seamless sharing of information between different systems, carers and relatives. Home monitoring technology is coming of age. Wireless networks are rolling out across the country. A solution is emerging for Britain’s social care crisis. You might even call it a revolution.
There will be challenges ahead. The infrastructure isn’t all there yet, but it is coming and in many cases, already here. For instance, Inhealthcare’s platform and process engine are being used by health and care providers across the UK to deliver service transformation with the resulting improvements in productivity and patient outcomes. But it can take time to change working practices, particularly those that have been engrained over many years. In our experience, staff feel empowered by health tech because it frees them up to spend more time with people who need the most help.
Nadine Miles, Director of Market Development, Spirit Health Group
We believe the industry will see an increase in shared digital platforms for non-clinical / lifestyle services across localities / regions focused on prevention rather than cure, ie. diabetes education, smoking cessation services, etc.
In addition, with the plethora of Apps available, we predict patients will start to want ones that are clinically approved or recommended by their trusted clinician.
Interoperability remains high on both the political and organisational agenda, and we expect to see an increased move towards care in the community; tighter integration between primary care and community pharmacy; as well as a better transition of patients from acute / secondary care to community and social care. Ensuring standards around data sharing and security will be a key determinant of success.
In addition, sustainability and climate change will be big factors in healthcare. We will start to see the integration of features such as real-time Air Quality data into digital platforms for long-term condition management, but also a focus on reducing waste within healthcare providers and healthtech businesses themselves.
A major challenge in the NHS is adoption and spread. Increasingly, digital products need to save money, increase productivity, detect conditions / exacerbations earlier, and keep the ‘worried well’ away from clinical teams (they are busy enough) – there is likely to be a need for evidence of effectiveness.
There will also be a drive for integration into existing clinical systems. But beware, this can delay adoption and use – so we must be really clear to only spend the effort and time where integration adds true value.
James Litton, CEO, Identity Automation
One prediction for healthcare 2020 is that identity and access management will become the new cybersecurity perimeter. Ensuring security will come down to healthcare administrators effectively managing user identities and the access they are granted. Traditional healthcare security boundaries have expanded to incorporate endpoint devices, internal and external resources including cloud-based applications, and a plethora of user types. Not only do your direct employees need access, but so do patients, vendors, contractors, partners, remote workers, and a wide range of other user types.
A Just In Time approach to access, providing access only as they need it and revoking that access as soon as it is no longer needed, will expand beyond the traditional scope of privileged access as healthcare organizations look for ways to increase granularity with access controls, while eliminating unnecessary, standing access.
Dr Abdullah Albeyatti, CEO, Medicalchain
In 2020, we believe the healthcare sector will truly begin to tap into the benefits of blockchain, particularly when it comes to storing patient records. Healthcare data is becoming increasingly more valuable, leading to increased attempts to hack or improperly sell the information. Therefore, there will be a greater demand for blockchain technology to create an immutable set of data that is more secure than a database. Blockchain also enables smoother access to and transfer of healthcare data through new applications which will put data back into the hands of the patients. We expect patients to become more empowered with their data in 2020 and have greater visibility and control over who access their data. This could also lead to patients becoming more involved with their health via app platforms and distributing their data to support further research and AI.
Andrew Wall, Associate Director of Digital Solutions, NHS Arden & GEM CSU
During 2020 we should start to see some outputs from the Local Health and Care Records (LHCR) programmes as they move from implementation to delivery. As the first two waves were in areas which had mature shared care records capabilities, it will be interesting to see exactly how the new capabilities will be used for frontline care delivery. NHS leaders will be wanting to see tangible benefits emerge to substantiate the investments made in this programme.
The remaining areas of the country will be playing catch up and will be able to leverage a lot of the technical ‘heavy-lifting’ done by the earlier waves. These areas have traditionally been less digitally mature (in shared care records terms) and our work to review digital maturity within STPs in the Midlands and East of England has shown that a combination of leadership, co-ordination and collaboration will be key to kick start these programmes – together with funding.
We expect also that the sticky issues connected to these initiatives, those of consent, information governance, privacy and opt-out will continue to gain in importance. It will be essential for these programmes to dedicate time and effort to addressing these in order to give the public confidence that their information is held securely and used appropriately.
Neil Laycock, Managing Director of Healthcare, Servelec
2019 has been a significant year for the health tech industry. The creation of NHSX has put the spotlight on the need for change through digital transformation in the health and care system. With more willingness than ever to embrace this change, it’s an exciting time as we welcome in a new decade full of ambition and hope. However, there’s still much to be done if we’re to make joined-up health and care a reality.
Interoperability has to be the driving force behind that joined-up approach and my prediction is it will be big in 2020. I believe we’ll see great strides in how systems ‘talk’ to one another as health tech companies collaborate and open up to the opportunities that working together can bring, especially with the continued development of open APIs which will provide innovation, as well as new suppliers, into the market through partnerships. This will bring huge benefits to healthcare professionals, but of course most importantly, to the patients in their care.
Meanwhile, A&E waiting times have hit an all time high, which is incredibly concerning. My hope is that the industry will pull together to address this challenge once and for all and eliminate bed management practices which clearly aren’t fit for purpose. We’ll be continuing to develop our Flow solution in partnership with trusts as we aim to do just that.
Simon Gould, Head of Development, Assura
As remote consultation and point of care diagnostics embed over the next decade, they will change the way GPs and their teams use their space. There’s huge opportunity for the building design to work with technology to help teams to be flexible. Some of the newer, more innovative primary care buildings have started to work towards or even adopt some of these design features, but there’s nowhere yet which wraps together every element and that’s the journey which is beginning.
Lee Bryant, Managing Director, Sesui
We believe there will be a big push for interoperability between all patient record systems across the NHS and that the gap between patient demand versus clinical resource availability will continue to grow and that any technology that helps bridge that gap and increase the availability of clinical resources will be sought after.
Javid Patel, Commercial Director, Issa Group
There are several predictions that come to mind – overall I think we will see an increased focus on social care – especially likely as the Government that has been elected has made a manifesto pledge to look at this issue after a long delay. We even saw Jacob Rees Mogg send in an article to Conservative Home on this topic!
This I think will mean that even if there isn’t a huge increase in funding, it will be allocated differently. I also think a distillation of the Manchester model is likely to be seen across smaller areas of the UK, and therefore we will see new models of care being tried, tested and delivered.
There are three new models I would focus on; all are innovative and will have huge benefits for the sector.
- Joined Up Care Pathways – closer collaboration between different healthcare providers (public and private) through new funding models which make commercial sense. In my work I have seen many effective people and teams but it is not so common to see people working across teams, and teams working across projects, and most importantly teams from different organisations (again public and private) coming together to work as one. This is due to a variety of reasons which all come down to a lack of shared trust and understanding, which leads to a bunch of questions no one can answer, such as who is paying for what? Who owns the IP? and so on. We are doing some work in this way. For instance, we have a TAC device which has the potential to serve an unmet need – but alone it is not enough to get commissioners on board. So we entered commercial agreements with other organisations to develop a framework to bring together our products, services and skills and combine them into one offering and it worked amazingly. We now work closely with these other companies and are pitching this combined offering nationwide with much greater success.
- Enhanced Communication between clinicians – ultimately through (one would hope) a NHS backed EHR. But even developments on the current SCR system would be most welcome, such as enhanced features, but more importantly increased access and a drive to increase adoption.
- Technology Assisted Care with devices such as Biodose Connect, an innovative medication management solution, and many other apps. I think we will see a noticeable increase in start-ups in this sector. This will be made possible due to the new models of funding, and so more people will be attracted to the sector which at the moment is not attractive at all to fresh investment.
Peter O’Hara, chief executive, OLM
Friday the 13th turned out to be lucky for Boris. The people have spoken and they choose to Crown Boris King of Brexit, so the first question is what impact this will have on the domestic policy agenda? We are unlikely to see any major domestic policy announcements, so no Green Paper on Adult Social Care and continued financial pressures across the whole of Health and Social Care. The political capital, civil service resources, funding priorities etc will all have to wait until Brexit is Done as they say. For the Tech sector change will continue apace driven by:
- Cyber Essentials & Security – increasing demand from Health agencies for specialist Professional Services and Cloud based Security services as they strive to catch up and modernise to deal with the increasing threats and attacks and the compliance standards that have been set for them
- Cloud Hosting – Increasing Demand for transitioning from on premise to Cloud Hosting across Health for their current legacy applications, similar to what we see across local government. This will be primarily driven by the need to release resources and money currently locked into managing and supporting in-house on premise software estates
- SAAS Solutions – Continued growing demand for next generation specialist applications will be frustrated by the lack of supply and proven solutions. The current supplier community across Health and Social Care is still dominated by legacy software, designed and built for another era. For suppliers it still provides strong revenues streams and profits, with little incentive for them to put this at risk by embarking on expensive re-engineering of their solutions it is difficult to see out the emerging demand for SAAS solutions can be satisfied any time soon. Watch out for supplier announcements on their SAAS roadmaps as they try to react to a changing market
- Skills Shortage – The paucity of supply of suitable skilled staff in the area of DevOps, software engineering, full stack developers, data analytics will be a major drag on the transition ambitions across health and social care, both for. the customer and supplier communities
- AI & Automation – will remain the headline grabber of choice for 2020 particularly as the tech giants compete to demonstrate they have the answers to the world’s health challenges. The NHS remains unique in the world of health with its access to whole population data and as such is the prize the tech giants want to get their hands on
- Market Consolidation – Ever since NPFIT there has been a significant reduction in the number of software suppliers in the UK, especially indigenous local SME’s, for example there are only really 3 GP System suppliers. Consolidation and M&A activity will continue as investors strengthen their market position to exploit the stream of existing revenue from installed legacy systems. The downside for the Health and Social Care sector is a less competitive and innovative supply market as investment in next generation solutions is deferred until M&A costs have been returned.
With the move into the New Year we can say that Digital 2020 at least has entered the arrival hall, but there could be some delay before Health & Social Care will take off and get the benefits that a fully Digital service will promise. Being in the Cloud with next generation business software that is designed to enable collaborative multi-agency working, that truly provide person-centred care and engaged communities is what the next digitally engaged decade will be about.
The challenge for suppliers will be to ensure that their software is ready for the move to the Cloud, to provide secure access for agencies to work together collaboratively. As one of the few wholly owned UK Software houses focused across the sector, OLM have invested to bring the next generation technology to the market, and know how challenging this will be for others who have yet to embark on that journey.