Blog Type, IPT Blog, Industry Sector, Health | February 2017

Healthcare of the Future

Written by James Heyburn, IPT

On Tuesday 21 February the Industry and Parliament Trust (IPT), in partnership with Innovate UK, hosted a breakfast meeting focused on the topic ‘Healthcare of the Future: Greater Efficiency Through Innovation’. The event was chaired by Maggie Throup MP, a member of the Select Committee on Health, and was attended by members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords alongside industry experts. The event’s two guest speakers were Ian Campbell, Director of Health and Life Sciences at Innovate UK, and Dr Luis Felipe Graterol, Medical Director at Bayer.

The event focused on the innovations currently being developed for healthcare and hospitals and the role that government can play in supporting these ventures. Discussions also focused on how research and development in healthcare is helping to create the hospital of the future.

Exponential advances in medicine and healthcare technology in the past century have shaped healthier generations, with many previously fatal conditions now considered small-scale and manageable. So much so that one-in-three children born in the United Kingdom today are expected to live past the age of one hundred. However, new diseases and conditions continue to blight individual’s health. New conditions, combined with increased life expectancy and a growing population, present a new set of challenges to healthcare providers. The United Kingdom currently spends in the region of 10% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare services. As a rising number of patients require long-term care and regular monitoring, innovation in the healthcare industry can create more effective treatment. Innovative solutions are born from medicinal advances but also technology that allows more detailed, personalised diagnoses and remote monitoring of patient behaviour.

Two of the most promising examples discussed at the breakfast meeting exemplify the dual medicinal and technological prospects.

A large section of healthcare relies on the ability to manage conditions with long-term care. Innovative and advanced treatments such as cell and gene therapies offer the opportunity for today’s healthcare to focus cure rather than care. Cell and gene therapy are complex and highly personalised treatments that cannot be generalised as easily as previous medicines. At this stage in their development they remain costly, however as research continues attendees noted that prices would inevitably decrease. A thread running throughout the discussion was the need to look past one year costs and focus on the life-long savings that cell and gene therapy could provide as expensive long-term care is no longer required. Innovate UK currently run three Catapult centres focused on health with one specialising in precision medicine, including cell and gene therapies.

The recently announced Wellness and Life Science Village in Llanelli is one example of a project making use of innovative approaches. The Village will meld leisure facilities focused on health lifestyle approaches, including an educational centre, with an out of hours General Practice (GP) service and medical research facilities partnered with Swansea University. The aim is to place greater emphasis on preventative methods and develop cutting edge medical care.

The lasting and central questing arising from the breakfast meeting was what innovation can have the biggest impact in the shortest period of time? The impetus is to ensure that revolution research and development progressions can be translate into more efficient and effective patient care.