Recent reports indicate a commitment by the Health Secretary to earmark £215 million for ‘the next generation of innovative treatments’ for patients on the NHS. Delivered on the 70th anniversary of the service, this marks a concrete commitment by the government to use technology to help bolster and improve the system.
Even at this early stage, the money has been earmarked to provide high-tech solutions and raise technical standards. This includes a push for virtual consultations, an increased use of robotics in non-critical surgeries, and in conducting research to help drive innovation in healthcare.
For many, these proposed solutions are ideal for an overstaffed NHS. Integrating new AI-based technologies carries the potential to dramatically cut waiting times, improve standards, and conduct diagnoses with a higher degree of accuracy than a human doctor.
While this commitment carries undeniable potential for the years ahead, it does remain important to remember that robots cannot solve all of the service’s problems. After all, while technological improvements may raise quantifiable statistics and figures, a robot will never be able to empathise with a worried patient in the same way as a human can. And with the NHS treating an average of a million patients every 36 hours, many of those patients will have quicker, more accurate diagnosis and treatment through AI, but some will always need the human touch.