The National EBME Expo took place at the Coventry Building Society Arena on the 28th and 29th June 2022, with over 125 international medical equipment companies exhibiting.
The message coming from the conferences was clear – more investment is required in medical equipment if the NHS transformation challenge is to be achieved over the next 5 years.
The government is investing in technological change, but the expert speakers agrees that a more strategically inclusive approach was required.
According to Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, “We are now embarking on a transformative programme of reforms that will make sure the NHS is set up to meet the challenges of 2048, not of 1948, when it was first established, and also to make the vital changes that are so urgently required in social care” The long-term sustainability of health and social care is dependent on having the right digital foundations in place, and so digital transformation must be the linchpin upon which all of these reforms are based.(1)
This plan sets out that health and social care will be delivered in a fundamentally different way, taking forward what we have learned from the pandemic, and from tech pioneers across the world. The aim is something that we can all get behind: a health and social care system that will be much faster and more effective, and deliver more personalised care.
At the moment, the clinical engineers that manage and maintain the medical equipment have had very little consultation. The chairman of the EBME Conference, Dr John Sandham, said ‘procurement of the equipment that is connected to patients must be a key part of the transformation strategy if technology is going to be used for government’s transformation initiatives, such as virtual wards’.
The focus on IT systems is important, but many of the speakers at the EBME Expo explained that ‘Data’ is the key to unlocking efficiencies and improving clinical decision making. John Sandham stated that 99% of the data generated from medical equipment is not used. There is just ‘too much’ data for healthcare professionals to process. Some of the messaging coming from the conference asked questions around storage of data, analysis of data, and security of data.
It was said that Artificial Intelligence software would be a solution to enable better clinical decision making, but to do this you first need to have access to the data. Without secure data storage – these improvements would be unlikely to happen any time soon. The other issues raised were around Electronic Patient Records – how do we choose what data to ‘push’ from medical equipment into the patients records?
At the moment, the strategic direction with regard to technology systems must include the wide variety of medical equipment that is being used, and to enable this requires EBME / Clinical Engineering stakeholder involvement.
Remote monitoring has played a crucial role during the covid pandemic and showed what could be achieved with the right plan and the right level of investment.