Public health is going digital. PHE and the NHS already embrace technology: from NHS Choices to the Change4Life Sugar Smart mobile app, information has long been transmitted to the public electronically. In a different remit, public health indicators are gathered through Fingertips, allowing the generation of local health profiles.
In 2018 we expect to see a surge in new technology partnerships across public health.
Digital-first public health: Public Health England’s digital strategy
In recognition of the ways in which technology is changing the way people live, interact, learn, play and work, Public Health England (PHE) published a corporate report in early 2017. The document outlines the digital strategy for the next few years with a clear focus on working with new and established companies to adopt health technologies wherever it ‘makes sense to buy it in rather than to build it.’
The digital strategy for 2018 includes the decision to ‘develop new partnerships with innovators, industry, academia and others.’ This part of the strategy offers new opportunities to CivTech companies solving public health problems.
CivTech organisations are already making the post of PHE’s decision to ‘buy in’ rather than ‘build’ specialised tech and apps, through strategic partnerships and healthcare delivery contracts. In the coming months we expect to see more novel technology adopted in the fields of public health data science, as well as patient healthcare apps.
The call for ‘sustainable and rapid digital innovation’ will hopefully incentivise the civil servants within PHE to take a chance on the little guys and work with some of the innovating new companies outside of the usual players. This will yield exciting new partnerships that solve some of the most complex challenges faced within public health.
As new new digital ways of working generate scientific and research opportunities, we expect to see more reports and papers from the think tanks and non government bodies within the Civ Tech ecosystem. It is likely that this was lead to collaborations between these organisations and PHE as new technology makes major changes to the face of public health.