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Jeremy Hunt launches review into training NHS staff to use new tech

Jeremy Hunt announces a review that will look at how to train NHS staff to use new technologies such as artificial intelligence, genomics, digital medicine and robotics

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has launched a review into how best to train staff across the NHS to use new technologies.

The review, which is being led by American cardiologist, geneticist and digital medicine expert Eric Topol, will cover a range of new technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, genomics and digital medicine. 

The aim is to find out how to best train NHS staff to ensure they are able to take advantage of new technologies and that they “are equipped to give patients the latest treatments” such as personalised medicine being enabled by genomics. The government plans to launch a genomic medicine service in 2018.  

Topol previously led a research programme in the US on how to use technology and data for more precise and tailored treatment. In the UK, he will look at where the NHS can invest in training for existing staff, as well as looking at skills required of future staff.

Topol, who has written a book called The patient will see you now, which predicts how technology can transform healthcare, said: “[Although it’s] hard to predict the future, we know artificial intelligence, digital medicine and genomics will have an enormous impact for improving the efficiency and precision in healthcare.

“Our review will focus on the extraordinary opportunities to leverage these technologies for the healthcare workforce and power a sustainable and vibrant NHS,” he said.

As part of his review, Topol will visit NHS organisations, looking at their use of technology. This includes a visit to Moorfields Eye Hospital, where they are looking at how machine learning could help improve analysis of eye scans. 

Announcing the review, Jeremy Hunt said new developments “surfacing in the NHS” could help provide answers to “some of our greatest challenges, such as cancer or chronic illness”.

“These give us a glimpse of what the future of the whole NHS could be, which is why in the year of the NHS’s 70th birthday I want to empower staff to offer patients modern healthcare more widely and more quickly,” Hunt said.

“I’m delighted that Dr Topol is kicking off this review – ensuring the NHS is at the forefront of life-saving, life-changing care across the globe for decades to come.”

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