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NHS technology must improve - Hunt

The NHS has fallen behind other industries in terms of technological advances, the Health Secretary has said.

The health service has "barely scratched" the technology revolution, Jeremy Hunt said.

Mr Hunt said "little has changed" in the NHS compared to the retail, banking and travel industries.

However, he said the NHS is on the "cusp of one of the most exciting changes in delivery of healthcare that will ever happen in our lifetimes".

Speaking at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester, Mr Hunt dispelled the "myth" that healthcare will become "less personal" in the future.

He said that technology will make care "more personal and more tailored" to suit patient needs.

Mr Hunt highlighted a number of ways that the health service will benefit from advances in the next two years. Apps will revolutionise how patients with long-term problems will manage their care, he said.

Using the internet to book GP appointments and e-consultations will "make a very big difference". And enabling other parts of the health service to access GP records, such as emergency care and NHS 111, will integrate the service - meaning patients get better care.

He added that publishing performance tables for doctors will help to drive up standards.

Mr Hunt told delegates: "I believe that we have only barely scratched the technology revolution that is about to hit everything we do in healthcare and particularly everything that happens inside the NHS.

"I think it's worth thinking about how little has changed so far in the NHS compared to how much has changed in so many other areas that we're all familiar with.

"Christmas shopping for example, one in five Christmas presents are bought online now, in fact last year there was a 500% increase in the number of people who bought Christmas presents on tablets.

"If you look at banking, half of people do their banking online, that rises to three quarters of under 35s. The retail banks have actually cut a third of their costs by persuading us to do all the work that they used to do.

"And then travel, 70% of us now buy our air tickets online. We have had a whole revolution of the budget air industry, only made possible because of the way that technology can bring down costs.

"And you look at those changes and you think of what is possible in our NHS, and I think we are on the cusp of one of the most exciting changes in delivery of healthcare that will ever happen in our lifetimes.

"The biggest myth that technology can help us to bust is this idea that because of financial pressure, because of the ageing population, because of the huge challenges we face we inevitably have to accept that our care will become less personal and less high quality than we have been used to.

"Technology will help us do exactly the opposite, it will help make care more personal, more tailored, more in tune with our demands as an increasingly affluent and demanding population.

"Also it will unleash through the data revolution some extraordinary scientific advances."


From Belfast Telegraph