Medtech sector healthy across Yorkshire

Credit: EMIS Health

Headquartered in Leeds, NHS Digital is the national digital, data and technology partner for the NHS and social care system. It is also playing a major role in driving the medtech sector forward in Yorkshire.

James Hawkins
25th Jan 2019.

James Hawkins, NHS digital director of strategy, sees a healthy future for medtcech in the region and more innovation on the cards.

Explaining NHS Digital’s role he said:  “We are responsible for maintaining the core IT infrastructure in the NHS, building new digital products and services to improve care and collecting and publishing healthcare data in England.

“Over the next few years we are looking to continue to innovate in new areas, including creating technology platforms that others can build on through collaborative means, as well as putting cloud and internet services at the forefront of all our platforms and infrastructure.

“We are also transforming our data architecture and services to allow more complex data sets to flow more quickly and improve our analytical systems so that data can be analysed using artificial intelligence for speedier results.”

It is an impressive operation but how is it helping to drive the growth of medtech in the region?

Hawkins said: “A lot of the work we undertake here at NHS Digital will be bolstered by the creation of NHSX, the organisation responsible for setting digital transformation, policy, implementation and change within the NHS.

“With much of NHSX’s work based in Leeds, we have an ideal opportunity to be close to the key decision makers in setting national health tech policy.

“This puts Leeds at the heart of the national digital healthcare picture and in a really good place to drive the medical technology market across the region and across the country.”

He added: “Leeds is an incredibly exciting place to be right now. The city is truly developing as a buzzing national digital hub, with an array of different sized organisations, from big international names to smaller start-up firms.

“We have also seen huge investment from Leeds City Council into transforming the local area into a Smart City that is growing at a tremendous rate.

“If more and more companies turn to the city as a base for their digital hub it will help to bring more and more skilled people and jobs to the city and make it the place to be for digital professionals.”

Based in Yeadon, AIM-listed EMIS Group is a major provider of healthcare software, information technology and related services in the UK.

It helps healthcare professionals in more than 10,000 organisations share vital information, facilitating better, more efficient healthcare and supporting longer and healthier lives.

Suzy Foster

Suzy Foster is chief executive of its EMIS Health business. She joined it in April this year after four years running Microsoft’s UK healthcare business.

In her current role she is responsible for all business units that service the NHS – including primary, community and secondary care services and she is leading the development of EMIS’ integrated care offerings.

She said: “It’s an exciting time to be working in healthcare technology because the health secretary has put tech firmly at the centre of his vision for the future of the NHS.

“There is a real impetus to release the potential of technology to make it quicker and easier for patients to access services – and, critically, to help clinicians cope with rising demand.  And the government is putting money behind this, too, with a range of initiatives to deliver a step change in how the UK uses technology to support care.

“Joining up information between different care settings is a major opportunity for technology providers as it is central to the new NHS long-term plan. We are well placed to meet this with our next generation cloud-based system.”

It is called EMIS-X and Foster says it will deliver a shared care record that will provide clinicians with a complete view of a patient’s journey – consolidating records from different care settings such as primary, social and acute care.

She added: “Enabling shared care records will be a key growth area. The NHS is changing its structure and organisation and needs the technology in place to join up new, multidisciplinary teams such as the emerging Primary Care Networks.

“Insight will be another growth area. Technology isn’t just about supporting care now – it can also provide insights into future demand and patterns of behaviour.

“We have developed a cloud-based analytics platform that will enable customers to create new insight into how care is delivered across the whole healthcare economy.

“Digital patient services will become increasingly important. Our online Patient Access service is already handling millions of GP appointment bookings and repeat prescription transactions every month.

“New services linking patients to local pharmacies and providers such as physiotherapists will be coming on stream this year, offering new revenue opportunities.”