As we find ourselves on the brink of a new year, it is imperative to contemplate the ongoing digital transformation journey of the healthcare sector and anticipate what lies ahead for this vital industry.

With persistent challenges concerning digitising the NHS and the added intricacy of individual Trusts independently planning and executing digital projects, it is evident that considerable progress remains to be made.

Nevertheless, the future seems promising. As more Trusts recognise the advantages of user-friendly technologies, such as an electronic document management system, the healthcare sector will only stand to benefit from enhanced efficiency, streamlined processes, and improved collaboration, ultimately paving the way for a more seamless and patient-centric healthcare experience.

But we’ll also start to see the effects of more advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and robotic process automation that are making their way into the healthcare setting.

The AI revolution

Undoubtedly, AI is set to lead the way in healthcare technology, particularly generative AI, in the coming one to two years. It has the potential to revolutionise the delivery of personalised services and care recommendations by analysing and interpreting vast amounts of data.

The healthcare sector is poised to make significant strides with the integration of AI, but it is imperative to highlight the necessity for thorough governance and testing of solutions, with clinical input being crucial in the development of any new technology for the sector.

Technological solutions enhancing efficiency in patient pathways

The demand for tech solutions leveraging patient data to impact the efficiency of patient pathways in hospitals and contribute to the preventive care agenda will be at its peak. This marks a shift towards more proactive and personalised healthcare interventions, aligning with the overarching goal of enhancing patient outcomes and experiences.

The growing role of robotic process automation

The upcoming year will witness a broader application of robotic process automation (RPA) in healthcare. Technological bots, particularly those aiding in subject access request (SAR) processes, will streamline and expedite tedious manual-intensive tasks. This demonstrates a commitment to enhancing efficiency and granting patients easier access to their data.

Challenges in NHS digital maturation

Despite notable technological advancements, challenges persist in the NHS’ journey towards digital maturity. The initially set deadline of 2025 for all Trusts to implement an electronic patient record (EPR) and achieve a foundational level of digital maturity was ambitious. With the deadline now extended to March 2026, there are additional implications for other competing technologies and services.

Individual Trusts, burdened with the responsibility of planning and executing digitisation independently, face significant challenges. A centralised approach to decision-making, coupled with adequate funding, is essential for a coherent and effective digital transformation. While Trusts excel in managing specific priorities, the backlog of procurement and deployments poses a substantial hurdle, potentially affecting other priority targets.

Mizaic – the home of MediViewer

The year ahead for the NHS

In a world driven by technological progress and the optimisation of processes, the paramount focus for technology partners to the NHS in the coming year should be centred on supporting the key contributors to their success: clinicians and patients.

With a steadfast commitment to leveraging technology for the betterment of the clinician : patient experience, it is crucial to maintain a concentrated effort in assisting numerous Trusts in articulating the economic case for digitisation and the phasing out of paper medical records.

As we stand at the intersection of innovation and necessity, the outlook for the future is promising, predicting a path toward a healthcare landscape that is not only more streamlined and efficient but, above all, inherently patient-centric.

Jon Pickering is CEO of Mizaic, which featured on our HealthTech 50 ranking this year