If you have a dog in the digital health fight or you spend any time thinking about the future of health care, drop what you’re doing and read The Topol Review – Preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future.
Over the past year a cross-disciplinary team of experts in and outside of the NHS convened to review the current state of medicine and technology. They have projected into the future what impact these technologies would have on the NHS workforce over the next two decades. The result is this independent report generated on behalf of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
A few key takeaways on this epic blueprint
- Unprecedented. This is the first time an undertaking of this nature has ever been executed. It represents the results of a concerted effort to create a coherent strategy in a rapidly evolving field.
- Acknowledges the critical role of a literate health professional. Rather than the cliche suggestion that doctors are soon to be replaced, The Topol review offers a blueprint that recognizes the importance of investment in people along with technology. Since 90% of all jobs in the NHS will soon require some element of digital skills, the healthcare workforce needs evidence-based guidance and processes to evaluate new technologies.
- Solutions beyond a digital fix for the worried well. Rather than the cookie-cutter news that bolsters the next great Silicon Valley start-up, this plan offers a broader vision for how accelerating technology can and should be harnessed for the spectrum of the NHS population.
- Patient-centered. Spend a lot of time with this report and you’ll see that, despite the exponential advances in genomics and digital technology, it is centered squarely on patients. It acknowledges that care is shifting home and in to the hands of those the NHS is built to serve. It offers a particular focus on vulnerable/marginalised groups that technology promises to offer equitable access.
- Recognizes the importance of data governance. As emerging digital technologies rely on the collection and storage of health-related data, these data need to be subject to transparent data governance structures and policies. Central to the Topol Review is the recognition that robust ethical oversight of this patient data is critical to the future of the NHS.
The Topol Review is bigger than the NHS
To date, digital health has been about a thousand isolated promises that leave us wondering how technology will make our lives better. Given its unique structure, the NHS is now positioned to create a new model of how technology and care can be integrated to provide better patient outcomes.
I have to confess that as a health professional watching from across the pond, my thoughts are drawn to the question of whether such a vision could be executed in the disunited state of American healthcare. I think it could. The Topol Review is bigger than the NHS. This report offers a framework for how systems should begin to conceptualize and organize the integration of technology in health care.
I believe it will take months to process everything found in this groundbreaking report.
You might be interested in the 33 charts review of Eric Topol’s book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine.