On August 23, 2021 the UK Government published its report entitled “Harnessing technology for the long-term sustainability of the UK’s healthcare system” (the “Report”). The Report calls for system-wide adoption of technology in the UK health system to enable transformative change that will benefit the health and wellbeing of the UK and promote economic growth. However, the Report cautions that technology alone cannot overcome the inequalities that lead to disparities in health outcomes and that digital tools for health should be accessible to all, or risk exacerbating health inequalities as a result of a “digital divide”. The Report notes how the COVID-19 pandemic has both exposed the limitations of the current system and highlighted the capability of the UK National Health Service (“NHS”) for responding with flexibility and agility. The Report also makes several recommendations to the UK Government, including to set up “Demonstrators” to test the system-wide application of healthcare technologies.
The Report arrives ahead of the expected publication of the UK Government’s review into the use of health data for research and analysis (see our earlier blog here), and outlines the opportunities presented by technology in the context of public healthcare systems.