Professor Sir John Bell: How I See the Future of HealthTech
Developing the Life Sciences Strategy gave me a unique insight into the current and future direction of travel for HealthTech. I would say that there are two key areas of opportunity that will shape the future of HealthTech, promising exciting developments that will benefit the industry and critically, the patient.
The first is in the diagnostic space. There is a real need for new developments that will help clinicians diagnose conditions more accurately and earlier in the pathway, so that they might target therapeutic medicines more effectively. If the diagnostics are right, then the therapeutics will be right. At the moment, we don’t have all the diagnostic information we need so therapeutic medicine can often be lacking. Technology is beginning to enable us to redress the balance.
The second domain is the creation and use of digital tools to keep a virtual eye on patients once they have left, or before they get to, a healthcare setting. If we can expertly monitor their chronic disease and gather the most useful and relevant data, we can enable them to stay at home for as long as possible, meaning a happier patient and an avoidance of the rather extraordinary costs of keeping a patient in hospital.
Although I’m excited for the future, my optimism is tempered by the unequivocal fact that pressures on NHS resources mean that the HealthTech industry may struggle to realise the full potential of its innovations. SMEs may also require additional support to forge the right connections and make their innovative ideas become a reality. I’m therefore very pleased to hear what ABHI is now saying and planning – the industry needs a strong, clear and co-ordinated voice. ABHI is without doubt well placed to be this voice and I am hopeful for the UK HealthTech industry as a result.
Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine, Oxford University