Britain ‘falling behind in healthcare tech race’

The public could get quite disillusioned if we fail to keep up. Younger people particularly are keen to embrace and understand new technologies. If the country falls behind there will be discontent, unrest, and a two tier system…

Nic Fildes reports September 15th in The Times: Britain ‘falling behind in healthcare tech race’

Britain has fallen behind in the push to apply techniques to improve the speed and accuracy of cancer diagnosis, according to a genetics company backed by Mike Lynch, the founder of Autonomy.

Sophia Genetics, a Swiss company that has been backed by Dr Lynch’s Invoke Capital, has signed up 80 hospitals across Europe to perform genetic tests that speed up the diagnosis for patients. Yet only six of those hospitals are in Britain, which risks falling behind in the race to apply “big data” techniques to spot patterns in clinical information.

Jurgi Camblong, the chief executive of Sophia Genetics, said: “The UK is lagging behind France and Spain. That’s where this technology is now used for diagnostics.”

He said that British hospitals had a “routine” whereby they got their own research departments to set up overly complicated labs, when the process should be relatively straightforward.

Sophia Genetics, which was established four years ago, performed 20,000 genetics tests last year and expects that to increase to between 65,000 and 100,000 next year.

Mr Camblong also said that a political push was needed to cut diagnosis times, with some hospitals still taking months to deliver crucial information to patients.

He praised Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, who said on Sunday that cancer patients would receive a faster diagnosis — within 28 days — by 2020. Mr Camblong argued that this was the kind of intervention needed to force more hospitals to improve genetic tests.

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About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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