Healthcare technology has developed rapidly over the past decade, with the pace of change expected to accelerate as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers believes that to deliver safe and affordable care in this fast-changing healthcare environment, governments and healthcare providers need to look at implementing national ‘Complete Lifecycle’ technology adoption strategies.
This approach would ensure equipment is correctly specified so it is fit for purpose and delivers the expected patient benefits, within budget.
In this report, the Institution recommends two areas which would offer the most widespread opportunity and significant benefit from the adoption of national ‘Complete Lifecycle’ strategies:
Remote Monitoring of Patient Care. A Remote Health Monitoring (RHM) network that integrates acute and social care sectors using data analytics, wearables and sensors could revolutionise healthcare provision by easing logistical pressures and supporting care initiatives for patients outside hospital. A key element is the standardisation of RHM equipment that enables patients’ information and care needs to be accessed anywhere in the healthcare network.
This recommendation reiterates the call the Institution made in 2017 for the creation of a national RHM network, which was repeated in its 2018 policy on Intelligent Assistive Technologies.
Advanced GP Surgeries. These surgeries would contain in-house early diagnostic technologies for liver, lung and bowel cancer for example, as well as blood testing, analysis and other preventative technologies. By enabling patients to be tested locally, waiting times and referrals could be reduced to days not weeks, saving thousands of pounds per patient and billions of pounds in long-term acute care costs.
In a parallel report “Healthcare Solutions: Elevating the Engineering Workforce”, the Institution is calling for the creation of two new specialist healthcare engineering roles to improve the adoption of new technology.
Healthcare solutions: elevating the engineering workforce
Engineering and Dementia: The use of intelligent assistive technologies
Remote Health Management: Reducing bed blocking
in the NHS