An evening at the Parliamentary Digital Health Summit

Our Founder & CEO, Nikhil Sehgal, speaks on a panel at the Houses Of Parliament about the future of Digital Health.

In this blog, he outlines his thoughts about the event.

So, I was on a panel with some other digital health experts the other day talking about how new technology is making its way into healthcare. It’s exciting stuff, but there are definitely some challenges. One thing I think we need to focus on more is interoperability. We need to make sure that all the different systems and technologies can talk to each other, even if they were made by different people. That way, we can build better systems that help patients get the care they need, no matter what their situation is.

Thankfully, more and more people are starting to realize how important interoperability is. It’s not enough to just have the latest and greatest tech – we need to make sure it all works together. That’s why healthcare organizations are starting to prioritize interoperability when they choose new software or devices, and regulators are trying to encourage more data sharing between different providers. These are really important steps that will help us build a better healthcare system in the future.

Everyone wants prevention

I haven’t met a single healthcare professional who doesn’t agree that we need more preventative measures in healthcare. What do I mean by preventative measures? Maureen from Healthily gave a great example of what people really want:

Do you want awesome treatment for a heart attack, or do you want awesome resources to prevent a heart attack?

It’s obviously the latter, right? In an ideal world, sure. But unfortunately, in the real world, there are way more treatments for the former than the latter. This is probably because the latter requires innovation to prevent a condition. This innovation could come in the form of a cool gadget or software that can alert you about early signs of a heart attack (well ahead of time, of course) and suggest ways to avoid it. Sounds awesome, right? But I can just imagine the regulatory hurdles a company developing such technology would have to jump through to make it widely used in public healthcare.

In a nutshell, there’s an economic barrier to innovation, especially in this environment where rates are rising fast, which makes it harder for startups to access capital. But besides the economic barrier, shouldn’t we make it easier for startups to try out new ideas inside the NHS?

But dealing with the NHS sucks?

No, it doesn’t. Startups should stop complaining about this. The NHS has a strict regulatory framework to follow when it comes to adopting digital health technologies. However, the regulatory framework around digital health technologies is still somewhat unclear. Startups and healthcare organizations need clarity on what is required in order to bring new products to market. Without clear guidelines, it can be difficult to navigate the complex landscape of regulations, which can stifle innovation and impede progress. We need to work together to create a more streamlined and transparent regulatory environment that supports innovation and helps us deliver better care to patients. Therefore, the first step should involve organizing committees between startups, regulators, and NHS executives to understand the best path forward. The issue is that even with such communication in place, the regulatory frameworks are still very complicated and unclear.

At my company Vastmindz, we’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the best minds from Leed Teaching Hospital Trust with regards to how our solution can be used in post-opp settings to reduce hospital stays, ultimately delivering an economic benefits. I don’t recall a time where I’ve spoken to a healthcare professional at the trust that was opposed to the adoption of new technology.

Regulatory frameworks are still unclear

We’re developing an AI tool which is self-learning in nature and uses various data streams to prevent a chronic disease. It will constantly update itself every hour as it assimilates more data over its lifecycle and it’s able to predict the onset of chronic diseases with an accuracy rate of 99.99%. This should be adopted by all healthcare organisations immediately! – Some startup founder

It is likely that you agree, but the regulatory frameworks for a software as a medical device (SaMD) are still unclear. Even if a startup develops a promising new technology, it can be difficult to determine the regulatory requirements it needs to meet to bring that technology to market. This can cause delays, added costs, and even regulatory roadblocks that can prevent innovation from making its way into the healthcare system. As the digital health industry continues to grow and evolve, it is crucial that we work together to create a more transparent and streamlined regulatory environment that supports innovation and helps us deliver better care to patients.

Wrapping up…

The future of healthcare is exciting, but there are still significant challenges that need to be addressed. Interoperability is crucial to building better systems that can help patients receive the care they need, and more and more organizations are realizing its importance. Additionally, we need to focus on preventative measures to improve patient outcomes, but economic barriers and unclear regulatory frameworks can make it difficult for startups to innovate in this space. However, by working together to create a more streamlined and transparent regulatory environment, we can support innovation and deliver better care to patients.

Nikhil Sehgal

Nikhil Sehgal
Improving health & wellbeing with AI | Founder/CEO @ Vastmindz | Forbes 30 Under 30