NEW YORK – The UK government said today that it will invest £248 million (about $336 million) in its National Health Service to support the digitization of diagnostic care. The investment should improve technology use, enable data sharing, and tackle care backlogs, the government said.
Sajid Javid, health and social care secretary, said the move will "play a big role in leveling up diagnostics services across the country," by giving UK patients faster access to results, supporting healthcare professionals, and reducing administrative burdens.
"Getting a faster diagnosis for a health condition is the first step to getting more people the treatment they need and earlier on, and our funding will help ensure our NHS has access to the latest digital technology to drive up efficiency," Javid said.
According to the government, the new investment will support the digitization of diagnostics services across the NHS, allowing images and results to be shared across hospitals, laboratories, and general practitioners' offices. GPs and other clinicians will also get access to a new tool that will allow them to select the best scan for their patients based on symptoms and medical history, reducing inappropriate requests to radiology departments.
The fresh investment comes on the heels of a previously announced £2.3 billion investment to fund the acquisition of diagnostic services and equipment, such as for CTs, MRIs, and ultrasounds, as well as to create 100 community diagnostic centers across England.
The British In Vitro Diagnostic Association released a statement in response to today's funding announcement, saying that the trade association welcomes the investment but stresses the "importance of continued support for the IVD sector to develop these outcome-changing products, have them authorized for use, and swiftly adopted into patient care pathways."
BIVDA also said that IVDs are "critical" not only for managing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but also for reducing the backlog of patients who are undiagnosed or awaiting treatment due to the pandemic. "Supporting the development and rollout of homegrown diagnostic solutions will enable NHS agility in responding to current health challenges," BIVDA said.