Westminster Health Forum

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Technology in the NHS and social care - innovation, uptake, regulation, and the response to COVID-19

November 2020

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference will examine the next steps for technology in the NHS and social care - including learning from innovation in the response to COVID-19.

The discussion is bringing stakeholders together with key policy officials who are due to attend from DHSC; the MHRA; BEIS; DIT; HM Treasury; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

The discussion at a glance:

  • COVID-19 - what has been learned from the role of healthcare technologies in the response to the pandemic - including in:
    • contact tracking - the development of testing and trace
    • vaccines - the role of technology in supporting research
    • accelerated development - innovation and organisational transformation by the sector for the production of new clinical equipment
  • technology adoption - next steps
  • technology implementation - the way forward in the context of ambitions in the NHS Long Term Plan
  • regulation - assessing priorities

The agenda:

  • Opportunities and challenges for adopting technology in the NHS: The Long Term Plan, the response to COVID, and beyond
  • Rising to the challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, adopting new technology and what has been learned going forward
  • Developing and scaling up successful technologies in the NHS and social care:
    • Utilising technology and AI for integration across health and social care services
    • Public-private partnerships and the use of technology in diagnostics
    • The use of technology in monitoring and improving people’s health
  • The NHS Innovation Accelerator, the response to COVID-19, and future priorities for health technology innovation
  • Approaches to utilising patient data for cross-sector collaboration in health improvement and protection
  • Encouraging innovation - funding, utilising data and AI, supporting the workforce and uptake on delivery platforms, and lessons from the COVID-19 response
  • The way forward for technology adoption across the NHS and social care - future regulation, measuring impact, and maintaining the momentum of innovation from the pandemic

A scan of relevant developments:


  • Data Strategy for Health and Social Care - expected from NHSX this autumn and to outline priorities for data sharing for care in response to the pandemic, whilst protecting patient confidentiality
  • Health Secretary policy statements - speeches on Better tech: not a ‘nice to have’ but vital to have for the NHS at the Healthcare Alliance and The future of healthcare at the RCP
  • A Buyer’s Guide to AI in Health and Care - recently-published guidance from NHSX
  • Digital transformation in the NHS - NAO on recommendations for managing the process with the importance of digital delivery of remote services in the NHS highlighted by COVID-19
  • Walk-through cancer diagnosis and robotic muscles among ground-breaking new projects - announced by the EPSRC as winners of funding from their programme supporting development of innovative approaches to healthcare technology, with the second call for funding opened in September 2020
  • Microsoft 365 digital tools - agreement between NHSX, NHS Digital and the software developer aimed at NHS cost savings and improved productivity, collaboration, and cyber security
  • the Care Workforce app - launched in England to provide access to guidance, learning resources and support for mental health and wellbeing
  • the NHS Digital Health Technology Standard consultation - on aims to streamline review and commissioning of health technologies, with the draft Standard expected this Autumn
  • the NHS Funding Act - which included £450m for new scanners and the latest in AI technology to transform prevention, detection, and treatment for patients
  • PHE Strategy 2020 to 2025 - with technology cited as central to developing targeted advice and interventions, and supporting personalised public health and care at scale
  • Recent investment in health technology and AI - to speed up the diagnosis of diseases with a £50m extra investment in diagnostic centres of excellence and to scale up existing developments in digital pathology and imaging services

The pandemic

  • Surge in the number of people using NHS tech during Coronavirus outbreak - reported by NHS Digital
  • NHS COVID-19 app launches across England and Wales - with reported bans in some workplaces, implementation and effectiveness issues, and privacy, data protection and accessibility concerns
  • TechForce19 - launched to support digital innovation for elderly, vulnerable and self-isolating people during COVID-19, in remote social care, staff planning, and mental health

The discussion in detail:

  • COVID-19 - assessing how health technologies have risen to the challenge, and what can be learned going forward:
    • impact - on NHS systems and records, helping frontline clinicians, digital appointments, remote working, and development of a vaccine, as well as contact tracing, testing and tracking
    • accelerated adoption - what enabled innovative technologies to be fast-tracked onstream during the pandemic
    • scaling up - what can learned from the rolling out of successful technologies in the NHS across public health, primary care, in the community, and in diagnostics
    • support for personalisation - development of technologies to deliver advice, information and interventions, and what can be learned from the way the public and sector because engaged
  • NHS Long Term Plan - and issues for delivery of ambitions to upgrade technology and digitally-enabled care across the NHS:
    • effectiveness and value - what more needs to be done to ensure these technologies are clinically effective and offer value for money in improving patient care and experience
    • engagement - priorities for working with staff, and patients and their families, on the use and benefits of technology, particularly in providing support for mental health and wellbeing
    • integration - the potential of technology in supporting and collaboration between health and social care
    • COVID-19 - how the pandemic has highlighted Long Term Plan priorities in areas such as service digitalisation and adoption of innovation - and how the momentum could be maintained
  • the Industrial Strategy’s Grand Challenge missions:
    • progress - towards the aims to use data, artificial intelligence, and wider innovation to transform the prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of chronic diseases by 2030
    • COVID-19 - how lessons and opportunities from the use of data and intelligence as part of the prevention response to the pandemic can be applied in other areas, such as chronic diseases
  • supporting innovation:
    • further options for policy - and how support should be directed and managed to help improve diagnosis and recovery rates
    • scaling up - options for accelerating the regulatory process, clarifying the evidence required on effectiveness, and increasing the uptake and utilisation of innovations in the NHS
    • the review of the NHS Health Check service - is due before this conference: with discussion expected on predictive and proactive approaches to disease prevention, including the use of targeting data to target interventions, introducing genomic testing, increasing uptake by offering digital checks
  • integrating technology within existing services - what more should be done to increase workforce engagement, improve digital literacy, and promote appropriate data use
  • regulation:
    • a governance framework - options with discussion expected to draw on the Artificial Intelligence: How to get it right. Putting policy into practice for safe data-driven innovation in health and care report from NHSX
    • communication - the way forward for collaboration and communication with innovators to ensure regulation does not hinder advances
    • procurement - ensuring that the purchasing of AI and technology is supported by suitable advice and measures to ensure the claims of technology marketing are met in reality, with new guidance issued by NHSX

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for Health and Social Care; the MHRA; BEIS; the Department for International Trade; HM Treasury; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles