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What tech is already doing for our healthcare

This article was taken from: https://www.standard.co.uk/futurelondon/health/what-tech-is-already-doing-for-our-healthcare-a3885911.html

By Evening Standard news

Here are the ways in which tech can – and is – making a difference

There are many ways in which tech can benefit – and is already benefiting – healthcare in the UK.

Below, we explore the relationship between the two. But to begin, let us ask a very important question…

How do we feel about AI and robots in healthcare?

Patient engagement with artificial intelligence (AI) is crucial. Research by PwC found that 39 per cent of people are willing to engage with AI and/or robots for healthcare, and men are significantly more willing than women. As expected, the younger generation is more open to engage, with 18-24-year-olds the most willing, and over-55s the least. People are more prepared to engage with an intelligent healthcare assistant for themselves than for their loved ones. However, willingness for robots to be involved in major surgery currently sits at 27 per cent.

Rise of medical technology in the UK

There are nearly 3,700 companies in the UK’s medical technology sector, according to Invest in Great Britain. The sector generates a turnover of £21 billion and has a total market worth of £7.6 billion.

How AI can improve diagnosis

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare has all kinds of potential benefits. Recent figures from PwC showed it could save up to €90 billion in preventing childhood obesity, up to €74 billion in diagnosis and early treatment of breast cancer, and up to €8 billion euros in diagnosis of dementia — all with up to 90 per cent accuracy.

Smartphone help for mental health

Technology isn’t just bringing new possibilities for physical health, but for mental health, too. According to the World Health Organization, more than 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression, so the Ginger.io app uses AI to offer round-the-clock personalised emotional support, coaching, therapy and psychiatry to anyone directly from their smartphone.

Speeding up treatment of cancer with your phone

Researchers at Imperial College London are working with the Vodafone Foundation on a project called DRUGS (Drug Repositioning Using Grids of Smartphones) to speed up personalised cancer treatments by using smartphones to crunch data while their owners sleep. Users can download the DreamLab app to their phone and run it overnight: while the phone charges, the app downloads a bite-sized packet of data (roughly 5MB) and uses the phone to run millions of calculations, before uploading the results and clearing the data. A desktop computer would take 100 years to do this.

Doctors feel the strain

A report in the British Medical Journal in 2011 found that one in three doctors have a mental health disorder. Last year, the Royal College of Physicians found that 70 per cent of junior doctors worked on a rota that was permanently understaffed, 80 per cent felt their job put them under too much stress, and one in four said it had a serious effect on their mental health.

Smart pills could stop overdoses

Pills have been given a tech upgrade. US regulators approved the first smart pill last year, which could help patients track medication and avoid overdosing. When the pill contacts stomach fluids, a tiny sensor passes a message to a wearable patch that sends the data to the patient’s smartphone. Scientists are working on other smart pills that could monitor heart and breathing rates.

UK Space agency works with the NHS on health solutions

Last month the UK Space Agency launched a £4 million drive to improve patient care with NHS England using hi-tech solutions. Innovators will bid for money to turn technology originally designed for space into medical applications. Previous examples of space tech being adapted for NHS use include a pill camera that can be swallowed by patients, dementia-tracking slippers, breast-screening vans that beam images back to assessment centres, wearable monitors to prevent falls among the elderly and apps that help prevent skin cancer.

‘Biobag’ to grow premature babies

LAST year, scientists at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia announced the creation of an artificial womb, which could transform human reproduction. The researchers used lambs — at the equivalent of a premature human foetus of 22-24 weeks — and successfully grew them in a “biobag”. The study was aimed to give premature babies a chance to develop in a uterus-like environment.

Robots can tell you what’s wrong

British medical tech company Babylon Health is using AI to offer medical information through a symptom-checker app in which patients can receive health feedback based on what they tell the bot. In a recent test against real doctors, Babylon’s AI scored a pass mark of 81 per cent, while the average for human doctors was 72 per cent.

The AI company using an app to save seriously ill patients

British technology company DeepMind, owned by Google, is working with London’s Royal Free Hospital to transform care through the use of a mobile app called Streams. It aims to address what clinicians call “failure to rescue” — when the right nurse or doctor doesn’t get to the right patient in time. Similar to a breaking news alert on a mobile phone, the app notifies doctors and nurses immediately when test results show a patient is at risk of becoming seriously ill and provides information about previous conditions so they can make a diagnosis.

Prescriptions to your door

Almost half of all adults take a repeat prescription, but 40 per cent of medication isn’t taken as directed. This costs the NHS billions in waste, so free prescription app Echo delivers medicine to your door and reminds you when and how to take it. Just input your NHS England GP, enter your repeat prescription and Echo will post it to you via Royal Mail free of charge.