Technology, innovation and cyber risk in the NHS

Date published





The NHS is increasingly opening its doors to technology and innovation. The establishment in recent years of the points below is evidence of this onward drive.

  • NHS accelerator
  • Integrated Digital Care Technology Fund
  • Digital Health London
  • Vanguard Trusts
  • Academic Health Science Networks

The smart option

We anticipate that the NHS will significantly develop its digital delivery of medical products and services over the next few years, via personal devices such as tablet and smart phone.

The aim is two-fold:

  1. Make the delivery of healthcare more efficient.
  2. Improve patient safety and the quality of care.

Technology that allows a healthcare professional to monitor a chronic, high-dependency patient — in real time — but outside of hospital via a tablet should lead to:

  • A reduction in: waiting times; diagnostic errors (as a result of pre-emptive monitoring); and mortality rates.
  • Less waste.
  • More resources to divert elsewhere.

Such developments have the ability to achieve better, faster and cheaper delivery of patient care.

Opportunity knocks

The size, scope and reputation of the NHS represents a valuable resource to providers of such innovation. The opportunities are vast. This could be the reason behind why — over the last five years — around 211 UK-based med-tech companies have received over £883 million from private investors.

NHS Trusts are eager to explore the possibilities, with budgets being isolated for digital-based products and services. Areas being explored include self-monitoring and diagnostics, together with e-referrals and bookings.

We believe that so much of what is being developed is about a patient-centred-approach, with the intention to provide the correct information and required service at the right time.

Whilst this is an exciting prospect, reliance upon new technological products and companies — without the correct level of planning and due diligence — poses risks to large organisations, such as the NHS. Such risks can often materialise in operational shutdown, poor patient care and subsequent litigation.

With these potential hazards in mind, it is important that such risks are minimised and that plans are put in place for when difficulties may arise.

Onwards and upwards

The march towards a digital era continues.

With it comes an increased adoption of exciting innovative technologies, sharing of data digitally and, unfortunately, cyber-attacks (a recently well publicised foe of the NHS).

It is surely more important than ever to ensure proactive steps are taken to minimise risks for the future, and that responses are quick and cost effective, when difficulties arise.

Related item: Preventing cyber attacks on medical devices