I think I am just beginning to appreciate the enormous revolutionary impacts and benefits that healthcare technology in all its many forms has the potential to give to patients, healthcare workers, organisations, the NHS and society in general. A revolution so large it might even be seen from space!
As the lead for the Surrey Heartlands ICS Workforce Strategy I am enormously interested in the way we are going to be able to empower patients to self-care and care navigate for themselves; how personalised medicine enabled through genomics will alter care pathways, reduce hospital attendances and stays and allow care closer to home; how machine learning, AI and robotics will automate or eradicate administrative and repetitive tasks currently undertaken by over stretched NHS teams, distracting them from direct patient care.
I’m not interested in these innovations in order to save money specifically, although clearly there are benefits to the taxpayer pound, but more in the opportunity to decompress the NHS, assist in addressing workforce gaps and shortfalls and genuinely giving my colleagues the gift of time to care.
As we move into an increasingly automated and self-service healthcare delivery model, the skills that only humans can bring should be increasingly valued and are the real prize to be won.
The human skills required to blend the art and science of care – compassion, touch, humanity, time and silent reflection – as we share the most intimate moments of joy and sadness with patients and their loved ones are what should re-emerge as the pre-eminent role of healthcare workers and one that retakes its rightful place in the technocratic hierarchy of care that has replaced it in order to sustain activity and productivity in the face of historic workforce vacancies.
Bring on the revolution I say!
Suzanne Rankin, Chief Executive, Ashford & St Peter’s NHS Foundation Trust