Technology is never going to replace doctors – or make healthcare cheaper. But data and artificial intelligence are the future
From vaccines and antibiotics to memory metal stents that widen narrowed arteries and algorithms that process radiological images and let us see the earliest signs of disease, innovation has been saving lives since the inception of the National Health Service 70 years ago. It is this blend of new molecules, materials science and biomedical engineering, in partnership with digital systems, that will continue to transform our expectations of life and survival in the 21st century.
While the digital revolution has taken hold in almost every corner of our lives, transforming everything from hailing cabs and booking holidays to shopping and dating, the health service has appeared to lag ever further behind. There are reasons why clinical medicine has been slower to embrace the seismic changes brought by the information age. Medical digital systems underpin life-critical organisations that run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Making substantial change is like trying to change the gearbox on a Formula One racing car while it is still sprinting round the track, and without hindering its championship prospects.