Lord David Prior, the former Chair of NHS England and currently Deputy Chairman of Lazard UK Financial Advisory, believes combining biological and data science can transform healthcare systems from “sick care” to precision public health. By Ben Hirschler and Ayesha Bharmal.
The digitalization of healthcare has the potential to transform the lives of citizens around the world by radically changing the way health and care services are delivered.
Historically, healthcare has lagged other industries in adopting digital technologies. Now, however, a wave of innovation is crashing over the sector—from health apps and wearables to genetic testing and artificial intelligence-powered research and development—all of which hold the promise of more efficient and effective healthcare delivery.
If managed properly, these developments can help to empower patients and create the foundations of a system based on prevention and early diagnosis—for example, through the rollout of mass screening programs.
But to make this a reality, digital solutions need to be embraced on a system-wide basis, and healthcare providers must win the trust of people across all ages and social groups.
For Lord David Prior, the former Chair of NHS England and member of Lazard’s Healthcare team, this points to a major opportunity that comes not a moment too soon. He believes there are extraordinary possibilities for biological and data science to work together to transform public health by delivering precision care—from the laboratory all the way to the bedside.
“Digital technology touches every aspect of healthcare and every aspect of drug discovery. It is part of the way we can salvage healthcare systems around the world from the ruinous state they are in,” he said.
However, there are a series of challenges that must be overcome to deliver a truly holistic digitalized healthcare service. These include ensuring the interoperability of different systems, addressing the inherently risk-averse culture within the healthcare sector, improving digital skills among parts of the population and among healthcare providers, and tackling controversies over the use of patient data.