Innovation Development Manager at the Hub, Clare Cornes, writes the first of a new series of articles focussing on different areas in healthcare that are embracing - or could embrace - new innovations.
Healthcare and the use of technology can often be a sensitive subject, bringing about visions of utopias free of major diseases and models that support sustained wellness levels in place of reactive illness treatment. Or dystopian concerns of robots, chatbots and AI, with any human interaction reduced to a minimum and patients merely considered as part of a system and not individuals with unique needs.
Different visions are shaped and shared frequently, with both concern and excitement on what the future may bring for the development of new technologies and healthcare. But what do these visions really mean, what challenges are they looking to solve and when is the “future” going to happen?
This blog – the start of a series that will focus on different areas in healthcare that are embracing, or could embrace, new innovations – will focus on the challenges and role of innovation, with future articles drilling down into (among other topics):
- The role of AI, cybersecurity, and data privacy in the effective use of data
- The rise of telemedicine and opportunities for future innovations
- The development cycle of med-tech innovations and why it matters.
Healthcare and technology
As a rapid adopter of technologies that improve diagnosis, treatment, and overall patient care, the healthcare sector frequently utilises new innovations. Alongside this, mass-market innovations such as low-cost gene analysis, access to telemedicine and “wearables” that offer individuals insight into their own health, have become the norm.
Similarly, in the near future, bionic prosthetics, smartphone connected pacemakers and contact lenses that can track glucose levels may become part of everyday life for many. However, not all areas of healthcare systems adopt new technologies at the same pace, and this is reflected in the challenges the sector faces.
Frequently, healthcare systems face the following challenges:
- They can be fragmented, both digitally and physically with a lack of connectedness and interoperability limiting the usefulness of the data and preventing effective data sharing
- Due to a lack of data and data sharing, they focus on single condition treatment, in place of whole-of-being wellness and predictive measures
- They rely in part on legacy IT systems which limit the effectiveness of cybersecurity measures
- Healthcare and social care systems are not integrated effectively, resulting in poor allocation and use of resources, equipment, and facilities.
These challenges are not typically unique to one healthcare system, with many facing the same issues around the world. Alongside this, the challenges are not easily solved without disruption and may involve high-risks.
What does this mean for the future?
Many pain points exist within the healthcare system in the UK and elsewhere, both for those working within it and for those trying to access services. New innovations will support improvements, but how these innovations are developed and implemented will impact the role they play. The Government’s Future of Healthcare Vision sets out the following guiding principles for new innovations:
- User need
- Privacy and security
- Interoperability and openness
Incorporating these principles into the framework to support innovations in the healthcare sector, the Government is investing in businesses and creating organisations that support the rapid development, testing and implementation of new innovations.
Grant funding is frequently made available via organisations such as Innovate UK, and programmes such as MATMED (an Interreg-funded project that supports the development of med-tech prototypes) and Health Innovation Manchester (Greater Manchester’s academic health science and innovation system) drive innovation locally, regionally and nationally. With this in mind, support is available for businesses looking to develop or test new innovations that could be right for the healthcare sector.
For businesses in Greater Manchester, the Innovation team at GC Business Growth Hub offers a full range of support, including:
- Innovation diagnostics for product ideation and development
- Guidance on prototyping, including materials, standards, and IP
- Application support for small, medium, and large grant funding submissions
- Grant funding for Greater Manchester-based SMEs developing new products and services.
In the next article, we will be looking at the use of AI, how it is being implemented today and how it could influence healthcare systems in future. In the meantime, contact us to find out more about the support available.
Clare Cornes, Innovation Development Manager (University of Salford)
Clare joined the Business Growth Hub as the Innovation Development Manager for the University of Salford in July 2019. Within this position, Clare uses her passion for new technologies and innovation to support SMEs in working with the University.
Prior to this role, Clare has led an autonomous vehicle development and trials programme for a British automotive manufacturer; managed multiple UK and European funded projects that utilised new technologies to improve local challenges; written national and international position papers analysing new innovations in relation to health and sustainable transport initiatives; and inputted into regional transport strategies to ensure new technologies are considered when designing schemes to solve city region challenges.
Alongside professional roles, Clare is also undertaking a PhD in her spare time, researching the barriers and challenges associated with implementing a sustainable Mobility as a Service (MaaS) system in Greater Manchester, including the policy and regulatory considerations. The research includes understanding what MaaS means in practical terms for transport planners, policy makers, related businesses and users. Through this experience, Clare has developed a skill for translating technical developments into socio-economic impacts and is keen to support SMEs developing innovative products and services as part of their business growth.