CEO, Lenus Health
The Major Conditions Strategy can pave the way for NHS transformation while meeting the challenges of today, but only if we are willing to bet on artificial intelligence (AI) to address the high cost of chronic conditions.
Most diseases are chronic rather than acute, affecting millions in the UK. With over 17 million people living with chronic conditions, they contribute significantly to emergency admissions and account for 70% of inpatient bed occupancy.
Demand challenges in chronic conditions
The risk of developing chronic conditions also increases with age, and with the UK’s over-65 population set to increase by 5.5 million in the next 20 years, demand is outpacing supply. As healthcare costs rise and resources strain, it is evident that the current episodic care model for chronic conditions is failing.
To address these challenges, we need transformative models of care that harness the power of data and digital tools. Embracing digital home care can lead to earlier intervention in community settings for high-risk patients, preventing downstream hospital admissions. Likewise, using digital and information-sharing infrastructure can help expedite diagnostic services, significantly reducing waiting times.
AI tools in diagnostics, treatment and drug discovery
AI, in particular, holds tremendous promise in healthcare to revolutionise patient journeys and research. By analysing medical images with remarkable precision and speed, AI algorithms aid in more accurate diagnoses and can help offset the challenge of workforce shortages. AI can even predict disease progression and outcomes.
With more digital infrastructure in place to support chronic conditions, the drug discovery process will be expedited, leading to new treatments and therapies, and administrative tasks such as scheduling and medical coding can be automated, freeing up staff to focus more on care.
Leveraging the power of AI to address the growing burden of chronic conditions can be the transformative approach we need, enabling early diagnosis, personalised treatment, predictive analytics and streamlined administrative processes.
Safely and effectively using AI
Of course, as we adopt AI, we must also ensure that ethical considerations and safeguards are in place. Patient privacy, data security and transparency in algorithmic decision-making must be prioritised to maintain trust and accountability.
The forthcoming Major Conditions Strategy presents a unique opportunity to place AI at the forefront of healthcare delivery in the UK. By embracing AI, we can create a thriving National Health Service (NHS) for the next 75 years — one that delivers on the promise of a preventative healthcare model and where early interventions and personalised care become the norm.