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Oxford academic Dr Ben Goldacre has been appointed chair of the UK government’s new HealthTech Advisory Board.
The appointment will be announced today (6 September) as part of the health secretary’s speech at the NHS Expo in Manchester setting out plans to make the NHS an ecosystem for the best available technology, including innovations in areas such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
The HealthTech Advisory Board will report directly to the Secretary of State and ‘will highlight where change needs to happen, where best practice isn’t being followed, and be an ideas hub for how to transform the NHS to improve patient outcomes, patient experience, and to make the lives of NHS staff easier’.
Dr Goldacre runs the Evidence-Based Medicine DataLab in Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, delivering data-driven tools for clinicians and patients. Its first output is OpenPrescribing, a live explorer for individual practice prescribing data, and a series of analytic papers arising from this.
Dr Goldacre said: ‘Medicine is built on data, and we are long overdue an industrial revolution. It’s not enough that the NHS has the ingredients for that revolution. We will need ruthless focus to get real, working, useful, data-driven tools into the hands of clinicians and patients.’
During his speech at the NHS Expo, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock is expected to say that the NHS can become ‘the most advanced health system in the world by embracing the best innovations in new technology and artificial intelligence’.
He is expected to add: ‘Now is the moment to put the failures of the past behind us, and set our sights on the NHS being the most cutting-edge system in the world for the use of technology to improve our health, make our lives easier, and make money go further, harnessing the amazing explosion of innovation that the connection of billions of minds through digital technology has brought to this world.
‘Like good tech elsewhere, we need technology that makes life easier for hard working and often over-stretched staff. We need technology that can run basic tasks and processes more efficiently. This will save the NHS money and free up staff time – money and time that can be better used to provide great care.’