Topol Review - delivering the digital future

A new report outlining how to prepare the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future has been released. 

The Topol Review, an independent report written on behalf of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, looks at how technological and other developments are likely to change the roles and functions of clinical staff.

It contains a range of case studies to show how digital technologies are currently impacting the workforce, including Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust's Virtual Fracture clinic.

Through this initiative, over 50% of the 8,000+ new patient fracture clinic appointments seen in 2017 were via the virtual fracture clinic, representing better patient experience and a saving of more than £700,000 for the Clinical Commissioning Group. The model is able to monitor and meet adherence to fracture clinic guidelines, and has been shown to be safe with no related serious complications.

The Topol Review has delivered three key principles to support the deployment of digital healthcare technologies, such as the Virtual Fracture Clinic, throughout the NHS: 

  1. Patients need to be included as partners and informed about health technologies, with a particular focus on vulnerable/marginalised groups to ensure equitable access. 

  2. The healthcare workforce needs expertise and guidance to evaluate new technologies, using processes grounded in real-world evidence. 

  3. The gift of time: wherever possible the adoption of new technologies should enable staff to gain more time to care, promoting deeper interaction with patients. 

The review predicts that technologies such as genomics, digital medicine, artificial intelligence and robotics will have a profound effect on care in the coming years, much as penicillin and MRI has done in the past. 

Wider uptake of these sorts of solutions will change clinical roles and staff must be supported through that change with relevant education and training.

Through its established links with patients, industry, health and social care and academia, the AHSN Network is well placed to support staff to adopt these new solutions, building on its reputation as the engine for innovation in the NHS.

Guy Boersma, Managing Director of KSS AHSN and Digital and AI Lead for the AHSN Network, welcomed the review's prioritising of support for staff to help them adopt new technologies. 

"Eric Topol's review provides a clear picture of the steps that need to be taken to ensure that the NHS, and most importantly citizens, can benefit from the vast potential that emerging digital technologies can offer," he said. 

"The review clearly links with the recent Long Term Plan for the NHS with its focus on using technology to improve services and expanding digital access and refers to the AHSN Network's state of the nation survey about AI in healthcare that we published in the autumn.

"The AHSN Network offers a wide range of services that bring together expertise across healthcare, research, innovation, digital health, and technology to support the spread and adoption of new technologies to improve care. 

"We will continue to support the NHS and its partners to meet the challenges described in the Topol Review." 

View the Topol Report