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NHS to Use Technology to Predict Disease

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has proposed using technology to predict and prevent illness, with AI and genomics having ‘the potential to change everything’.

Hancock said that preventative measures deserve more attention and this move to go digital is one of a series of measures to revolutionise public health.

Speaking at the Annual Meeting of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes on 5th November 2018, Hancock said that ‘everyone knows prevention is better than cure’, and that to get the best return on the extra £20.5bn promised to the NHS by prime minister Theresa May, digital technologies are essential.

He said: “Using new digital technologies to help people make informed decisions, with more access to primary and community care and with more social prescribing, is all aimed at stopping people from becoming patients in the first place.”

Hancock added that AI and genomics have the potential to transform medicine.

He said: “They promise the potential to unlock our genetic codes and allow us to apply those codes to how we live our lives – to predict who is susceptible to which illnesses, to more quickly diagnose those already ill, and to develop new tailor-made treatments to bring people back to health.”

The UK government has said that technology has a ‘significant role to play in helping people to live healthier, more independent lives’, and has set out a policy document to radically shift how the NHS is perceived.

The policy paper said: “Predictive prevention will transform public health by harnessing digital technology and personal data – appropriately safeguarded – to prevent people becoming patients.”

The government wants health and social care organisations exploring personalised and targeted digital services to engage citizens in taking responsibility for their own health.

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