The red pill or the blue pill – the NHS can’t survive unless it wakes up to the healthtech revolution

Get your tickets for tomorrow’s Parliament Street Tech Frontiers Conference here.

The NHS is in a state of crisis. People are living longer, giving rise to more complex illnesses, which need more expensive treatments – all on an unprecedented scale.

With NHS Trusts in England reporting a deficit of £886m earlier this year, it’s clear that the national jewel is at breaking point. Funding can’t plug the gap fast enough, resulting in a vicious circle of finger pointing between the government, the opposition, NHS executives, and campaigners.

But no matter what investment in the NHS is made now – even the infamous £350m claim made on the side of the big red Brexit bus – money alone can’t plug the widening gap between resources and services if significant changes aren’t made in how GP surgeries, hospitals and patient themselves approach healthcare.

The health service will only be able to survive with a shift away from the dependency on traditional health services, to a smarter more self-sufficient approach to healthcare.

Self-service will be the key to the survival of the NHS – with patients gaining access to intelligent services that will support them in making the right choices to both maintain their health and understand how best to treat illness.

Intelligent services will enable many patients to self-manage existing conditions and/or bypass traditional services when the in-person contact is not needed: whether that’s using mobile-enabled insulin pump that also acts as a digital diabetes coach to support proactive self-management; Public Health England and Facebook Messenger’s Start4Life chatbot that provides NHS-approved answers to new mums’ breastfeeding questions at any time of the day or night; or having access to doctors via your mobile or laptop with Push Doctor for consultations, prescriptions and sick notes.

The NHS is facing a monumental challenge that is putting its entire existence at jeopardy. It’s too late for the blue pill’s blissful “head in the sand” ignorance – smarter solutions that will enable more effective healthcare services and relieve the mounting pressure of a growing and aging population is the only way that it can survive.

Tomorrow, Saturday 9th September, join Ben Howlett, Director at Public Policy Projects, and Eren Ozagir, Founder and CEO of, to take the red pill and discuss the healthtech revolution, what the future digital NHS might look like and what needs to change to make it happen.

Book your ticket to our Tech Frontiers Conference here.

Kate Baldwin is Comment Editor for Parliament Street

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