Posted on February 12, 2019 by staff

Tesco tech ‘more advanced than NHS’


The tech used by the NHS is less advanced than that of supermarket giant Tesco, the health secretary has warned.

Speaking at the launch of a report on preparing the health workforce for a digital future, Matt Hancock said it is essential for the NHS to embrace new technology to ‘help save lives’.

He said the NHS does not know which hospitals patients have visited or which medicines they have been given in the past.

“Right now, Tesco has a more sophisticated and more efficient technological system than the NHS,” he said.

“They know who you are through loyalty cards, where you shop, through store IDs, what you buy, the items scanned at the checkout.

“That wealth of information means they run their operations with just-in-time deliveries, and they shape their offers with a personalised service in order to deliver for you, the customer.

“And they are delivering groceries. The NHS doesn’t have anything like that yet. We don’t even know what we already know.

“And if Tesco can do this with groceries, by God we need to do it for the life-saving operations of the NHS.”

The independent review into the pending technological health revolution, led by US academic Eric Topol, was launched on Monday.

It suggested that robots, artificial intelligence, and sensors will help doctors and give them more time with patients.

Smart speakers, such as Siri and Alexa, were also suggested as having a “major impact”.

The report suggests they could even be used with a “mental health triage bot” that engages in conversations while analysing text and voice for suicidal ideas and emotion.

“Today we manage people in healthcare on one-off data in a contrived setting when they come to an office or a hospital,” said Dr Topol.

“And this is now taking that data from their real-world experience, often continuous or very high frequency sampling, and that’s a whole different way to understand an individual and to provide better support and management.

“The non-physician workforce is going to have a great enabling function over time.”

Dr Topol said technology will allow patients to have an active role in their care, keeping track of their own health and measuring vitals such as blood pressure to help doctors.

He also called for new education of staff in preparation for the changes, with 90 per cent of NHS jobs predicted to require digital skills within the next 20 years.

Officials believe this could lead to less steep growth in demand for additional doctors.