Digital diagnostics can unlock the power of precision medicine for the NHS – but they come with some challenges.
Our Chief Operating Officer, Judy Smith, reflects on the current pressures facing imaging and pathology networks and clinical teams and outlines how we can harness the opportunities offered by digital diagnostics.
Over 1.5 billion diagnostics tests are carried out in England every year to confirm or rule out health conditions and disease. They are an essential factor in diagnosis and support screening and monitoring of long-term conditions.
But diagnostics services are under immense pressure.
In 2019, the NHS Long Term Plan recognised the need for “radical investment and reform” of diagnostics services in England to keep up with demand. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, it accelerated the use of digital diagnostics services but also highlighted the fundamental challenges in the provision of diagnostics and image sharing processes across England.
The Richards’ Review of diagnostics services for NHS England set out a number of recommendations to address these challenges, including new service delivery models, improvements to digitisation and connectivity, growth of the imaging workforce, and an expansion of digital diagnostics equipment and facilities.
In 2021, the Government committed nearly £250 million of capital investment to modernise diagnostics and help tackle patient waiting lists and invested £2.3 billion over three years to create 100 community diagnostics centres across England. This investment provides the financial backing to accelerate digital diagnostics practice, but barriers remain. In our work to support local and regional NHS organisations to develop their diagnostics strategies and enterprise architecture, we’ve seen four common challenges time and again:
• Uncoordinated systems investments resulting in data being locked in organisational and supplier siloes
• Difficulty finding and reliably identifying records across sites
• Time-consuming and costly diagnostic image sharing processes
• Unnecessary duplication of tests
We believe there is a huge opportunity to transform digital diagnostics by addressing these challenges head on.
By getting the right foundational systems in place and standardising data in common storage and for exchange, we can make data sharing much more efficient. A national data-sharing architecture for diagnostics, including a national diagnostics register, could transform how, where and when patients and clinicians can access health records. Reimagining diagnostics pathways to give patients the power to schedule their own appointments, access their own data and carry out their own tests at home, could also revolutionise the diagnostics landscape. Diagnostics data, properly controlled, can be a huge boon to research; the insight from research can transform what tests are requested, the exams to be performed and the diagnoses made, and, importantly, track patient outcomes.
By unlocking the full power of digital diagnostics, the NHS has the chance to realise countless efficiencies and improve healthcare provision for patients across the country.
Find out more
We can help you to find the best digital diagnostics solutions for your organisation, staff and patients. Learn more about our digital diagnostics services here.
Get in touch
If you’d like to chat about how we support your digital diagnostics project, contact Matthew Roberts at email@example.com