Ian Watson, Director of Commercial Solutions at Canon Medical Systems UK explains how overcoming challenges in UK radiology needs meaningful innovation in technology, staffing models and facilities to transform productivity and accelerate prevention.
The earlier disease is identified, the better the outcome for a patient. So, in a climate of waiting lists, it is even more vital that the first time a patent has a diagnostic imaging scan, it must produce an accurate, clear image with no more delays or repeats. It is this necessity that has led the expansion of frontline imaging with Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Now installed around the UK, dozens of AI-assisted CT and MRI systems are powering productivity to provide clear and distinct images at speed, to assist with quicker clinical diagnosis. Earlier diagnosis is not only better for patient recovery, but also better for the overall health economy.
Take cancer diagnosis for example. By identifying small lesions, polyps or nodules early, resulting interventions are needed at a much lower unit cost. This can include keyhole or minimally invasive procedures that avoid more costly open surgery, anaesthesia, longer hospital stays and ongoing medication.
Disease prevention is the cure
The introduction of Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs) can be applauded for the success of increasing the number of diagnostic imaging tests and scans accessible to patients. However, the strategic aim of CDCs for preventative health closer to the community still has some way to go.
The holy grail would be to further the advancement of predictive health with early detection of disease and data-led health screening initiatives, saving greatly on the economic burden over the long term. For example, when wellness can be prescribed through lifestyle changes such as sport or diet, these changes can save time and money, rather than waiting for the grip of disease.
This is in progress. A unique, carbon-neutral built community arena (Canon Medical Arena) with multi-purpose sports and medical diagnostic centre in Sheffield is due to open this autumn bringing greater imaging capacity to the community and wellbeing focused, preventative medicine.
Co-providing service delivery with the NHS
The evolution of modern healthcare also goes further than just increasing capacity and volume of imaging systems. It also requires strategic consideration of how to innovate the deployment of human resources and healthcare facilities.
New ideas on staffing models, to work alongside the arrival of new CT or MRI scanners, are happening. This collaborative approach is about working with the NHS to improve productivity by creating a rich, shared talent pool, not poaching, and build back resilience in existing people by creating flexible roles and training new people for the future. Unique times call for unique and hybrid delivery models.
Speed of access to additional facility space is also essential. Unused retail or business units may be an option; however, surveying, planning, and conversion can create delays of up to two years increasing cost implications. Perhaps quick to create and easy to deploy diagnostic modular buildings that can ‘click-together’ to flex up and down with capacity needs are a swifter and more economical solution? It is how we rallied our NHS Covid response scanners in just 12 weeks from order to delivery.
No one can doubt, healthcare transformation is a complicated web of interconnected elements. To achieve preventative healthcare that greatly improves long-term quality of life, innovation collaboration between NHS management, industry, academia is key.
Quick to create and easy to deploy diagnostic modular buildings that can ‘click together’ to flex up and down with capacity needs are a swift solution to community diagnostics.
The advancement of predictive health via data-led health screening initiatives will save the health economic burden over the long-term.